By Supachai Phetchthewee
Four Malaysian men have been arrested over allegations that they duped and drugged a Chiang Mai resort owner so he would lose over Bt10 million at a gambling table – which they denied, Tourist Police deputy chief Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpan told the press in Bangkok on Monday.
Suspects Ng Ah Hing, 47, Loh Chuck Mun, 74, Chew Ngan, 76, and Lee Kin Chian, 61, were arrested for fraud on Sunday at a hotel in Soi Ratchadapisek 17, Din Daeng district, along with evidence including cash in Singaporean dollars, US dollars, ringgit and baht as well as mobile phones and some forged banknotes.
They were accused of duping 56-year-old Thai businesswoman Sawichaya Tratjamnong into gambling. Sawichaya recalled that she had received a phone call from suspect Ng Ah Hing, who expressed interest in buying her three-rai (0.48-hectare) resort in Chiang Mai’s Mae Taeng district for Bt12 million as per a newspaper advertisement. They arranged to meet on December 27 at a Lat Phrao mall to show the land title deed and resort photos.
As Sawichaya was in the northern province during the New Year holidays, the suspect also went to Chaing Mai on January 3 to see the site. On January 17, the woman went to collect a 10 per cent deposit for the property purchase from the suspect at a Bangkok hotel’s VIP room where she was introduced to Lee Kin Chian, who claimed to be the first suspect’s uncle and to own an oil palm business, and another man, later identified as Loh Chuck Mun.
Sawichaya said she felt slightly dizzy after drinking a glass of water they offered and one of the suspects invited her to gamble. She said she initially refused and tried to leave but they persuaded her to stay to meet the first suspect’s elder brother. Hoping to complete a sale of the resort, Sawichaya stayed and agreed to gamble “just to kill time”.
The men encouraged Sawichaya to place money bets and the first suspect even escorted her to withdraw Bt850,000 from an ATM and from a bank while she also brought up Bt3 million cash she had kept in her car that day for business funding.
Sawichaya lost all the money in gambling with the suspects and owed them another US$328,000 (nearly Bt10.45 million). The first suspect later phoned her to demand that she transfer the resort to repay the debt and launched verbal threats, so Sawichaya filed a police complaint with the Huai Kwang Police on January 18.
Surachet said the suspects admitted knowing Sawichaya but denied duping her or taking her Bt3 million in cash.