The arrest was made after a formal complaint was filed by the Phuket International Airport Taxi Association, Immigration officers explained at a press conference attended by Immigration Bureau chief Lt Gen Somphong Chingduang in Bangkok today (Mar 27).
Acting on the complaint, and working with officer from Sakhu Police, Immigration Division 6 officers began their operation by first checking the website GoTripPhuket.com, which they were told is operated by a group of Russians providing professional drivers to transport other Russians.
One officer who can communicate in Russian made a request through the website’s contact page, and soon was contacted by a “foreign woman communicating in Russian” through WhatsApp, the press conference was told.
The officer then requested a car to pick up a Malaysian tourist from a hotel in the Sakhu area to take the tourist to the Central Festival Phuket shopping mall. After agreeing a fare of B800, the officer was sent photos of the car and the driver who would arrive to pick him up, and given a contact phone number.
The car and the driver arrived, and the officer continued the charade of being a Malaysian tourist.
While en route, the officer sent a message letting his fellow officers know to intercept the car and check the driver’s credentials.
The driver was initially unable to present his passport or work permit, and was taken in for questioning. Officers later confirmed that he was indeed Russian national Konstantin Morozov.
Further checking revealed that Morozov had already overstayed in the country 163 days, the press conference was told.
Morozov was charged at Sakhu Police Station for working illegally and for illegally staying in the country.
It was not reported whether or not Morozov will be deported, or detained in Thailand while awaiting deportation.
It was also not reported whether any further investigation into the services provided by GoTripPhuket.com would be investigated.