Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Koh Lipe tour scam round-up completed

Apr 18. 2018
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By The Nation

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All suspects in an alleged Bt10-million tourist swindle are now in police custody.

Tourist Police deputy chief Maj-General Surachet Hakpan announced on Wednesday that key suspect Pratheep Kaewnont, 43, had turned himself in the day before.

He said Pratheep, manager of the unnamed tour company, claimed his firm had faced liquidity problems since late last year, but he had vowed to compensate all the people who signed up with him for trips to Koh Lipe in Satun.

Besides facing criminal prosecution, Pratheep and Thaworn Kaewkrai, 51, the company’s owner who was arrested on March 26, will next week be required to provide remedial measures including refunds to victims who filed a civil lawsuit.

Surachet said Pratheep also had six outstanding arrest warrants for fraud from 2014-2017, in Nonthaburi, Krabi and Bangkok.

Police on Monday announced the arrest of six women named as executives of the tour company under warrants issued on April 11 by the Satun Court. They were charged with public fraud and illegally operating a tour business resulting in damage to tourists.

The case began with a complaint filed with Koh Lipe police on March 24 by 44 Thais. They claimed they’d been duped into buying packages to visit the island from the company’s Facebook page but did not receive the services advertised.

Police determined that as many as 1,600 people could have fallen victim to the same alleged fraud, resulting in damages totalling Bt10 million.

To date, 200 people have stepped forward to file complaints.

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