By Suriya Patathayo
It was the 16th money-returning ceremony since the Royal Thai Police's (RTP) call centre scam suppression operation centre was established late last year.
Peerapat Ingpongphan, a deputy spokesman for the Anti-Money Laundering Office, told a press conference that since December 8 last year police had returned a total of Bt36 million to 85 victims – out of the 445 telecommunication fraud cases that caused damages worth Bt235 million to people.
Call-centre scammers who had lain low in response to a heavy crackdown earlier this year had returned to the crime this month, said Peerapat. Some 10-20 victims who had lost an estimated Bt10 million to scammers have recently filed complaints, he said.
The scammers have resorted to withdrawing stolen money in other countries, because no Thai any longer dared to open bank accounts for hire for fear of punishment, he added.
Thanitsak said most victims who quickly contacted the authorities in hopes of getting their stolen money back realised they had been duped within 15-30 minutes after hanging up from a conversation with the scammers. Some had quickly alerted the police hotline 1710 and contacted banks in time to freeze the money. Those who took longer to alert the authorities often found that the scammers had already withdrawn some of the stolen money from the banking system, he added.
Taiwan is the major regional base for call-centre gangs due to the country’s edge in technology, said Tourist Police Bureau deputy chief Pol Maj-General Surachate Hakparn. Thai police have thus joined with Taiwanese police to make arrests, resulting in some 40-50 suspects being netted recently.