The announcement of the arrests came at a press conference held at the Phuket City Police Station at 9am today by acting Phuket City Police Chief Col Peerayut Karajaedee.
Col Peerayut said that the arrests were made after Ms Buathip Thanetthanasombat, 35, from Phuket, who owns the Thongtip Gold Centre and its three three branches on the island, reported that her shops had been sold various amounts of fake gold between May-June valued at B3,576,000.
Ms Buathip said that on May 31 two women went to the Thongtip Gold Centre on Phang Nga Rd in Phuket Town and sold fake gold items.
After selling the gold the suspects left the area in a Bangkok-registered black Ford pickup truck which had been left in front of the bus station off Phang Nga Rd.
After receiving the complaint, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen ordered acting Deputy Police Chief of the Phuket City Police Lt Col Pathak Khwanna and his team together with officers Patong, Kamala and Tha Chatchai police stations to investigate.
On Saturday (June 3), police had sightings of a Bangkok-registered black Ford pickup truck which they believed was about to leave the island, so they contacted officers stationed at the Phuket Checkpoint in Mai Khao to stop the vehicle should it attempt to leave.
The vehicle did attempt to pass through the checkpoint but was stopped and police arrested five people on suspicion of committing the crimes.
The five; Ms Prakong “Khong” Rattanapratum, 36, Mr Boontean “Tean”Khornsongkroh, 43, both from Chaiyaphum; Ms Supharp “Pharp” Damdin, 40, and Mr Phisit First Sermsong, 42, both from Udon Thani; and Ms Khanuengrat “Jom” Harngamphang, 25, from Maha Sarakham were all taken to Phuket City Police Station for questioning.
Police seized from the gang the black Ford pickup truck, 115 B1,000 banknotes, two fake gold necklaces, two of fake gold rings, and one amulet covered in fake gold.
During the course of being questioned it was found that a sixth member of the gang was still at large. However, at around midday yesterday (June 4), police managed to track down Mr Arthit “Bee” Gongjorn, 28, from Khon Kaen at an undisclosed location in Patong.
All six members of the gang confessed to selling the fake gold items to jewellery shops in Phuket and said that they met as a team in Bangkok on May 30 and travelled to Phuket in the Ford pickup with the view of committing their crimes.
It was reported that Prakhong, Boontean, Khanuengrat, and Arthit were responsible for selling the items and that Supharp would be in control of the money collected.
The gang said that on May 31 fake gold to the value of B70k was sold at the Thongtip Gold Centre on Phra Baramee Rd in Patong, B51k of fake gold to the Thongtip Gold Centre on Phang Nga Rd, B51k to the Thongtip Gold Centre on Montri Rd, B32k to the Baiyok James gold shop in Kamala, and B34k to an unnamed gold shop in Chalong.
However, it was revealed in total the gang sold fake gold to the value of B1,311,500 to the Thongtip Gold Centre Montri Rd, B1,293,000 at the Thongtip Gold Centre on Phang Nga Rd, and B800k worth to the Thongtip Gold Centre on Phra Baramee Rd in Patong.
Police are led to believe that a further three people; Ms Uraiwan “Khai” Saeabkhong, 41, from Nakhon Ratchasrima; Mr Watcharabodin “Film” Watcharosin, 23, from Sakon Nakhon, and Mr Arnon “Eak” Pinwongwarn, 42 from Bangkok are also involved with the gang and are still at large.
They have also put out a warning to all the island’s gold shops to be more alert when buying gold and that ID cards of those selling gold should be checked thoroughly before making any transaction.