By Jessada Chantararak
Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakparn, deputy tourism police commissioner, said the Taiwanese man, who he identified as Chen Yuen Kai, was believed to be still in the country.
One arrested suspect, Paisal On-aim, 44, allegedly ran the operation and knew Chen from prison.
Surachet said Pol Major Jintana Suparb, 71, a former assistant nurse at the Police Hospital, alerted police earlier this month that she had been cheated out of Bt1.5 million.
The scam was divided into three groups pretending to be policemen, post officials and people hired to open bank accounts.
Jintana said she received a telephone call on December 4 from a man who claimed that he was a post official in Phitsanulok province. “The man claimed that I had mailed more than 30 bank books to a woman named Malee Insuk. He then said the money in the books came from money laundering.”
He then passed the line to a woman who claimed to be official at the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo), who told Jintant to wire all the money in her bank accounts to her office for investigation, according to the retired officer.
She then went to Siam Commercial Bank’s Big C Sapan Mai branch and transferred the money to a bank account the “Amlo official” specified in three Bt500,000 tranches. After that, another person claiming to be an Amlo official called her, saying that he would transfer the money back to her the following day.
However, when Jintana told her neighbour about the transfer, her neighbour said she had been cheated and she notified police.
The 19 suspects will be charged with fraud and impersonating officials, while Paisal will also face a charge of transnational criminal activity.
Surachet added that there were 26 more suspects still on the run, five of whom were in a foreign country.