By SURIYA PATATHAYO
POLICE expect to seek arrest warrants soon over an investigation into a gang of “skimmers” who stole more than Bt12 million from the Government Savings Bank (GSB).
Police are gathering evidence such as security camera footage of nine suspects – four of whom were captured in Provincial Police Region 8’s jurisdiction, four in Bangkok and one in an unnamed area – national police senior adviser General Panya Mamen said yesterday.
He said Immigration Police were investigating 32 Eastern Europeans who were suspected to be electronic card thieves (skimmers), according to information provided by Taiwanese authorities. Immigration Police were checking if any of these suspects entered Thailand just before the thefts.
Police believe the gang may have studied the GSB’s ATM system in Phang Nga in March before stealing the money in July.
Panya lead investigators yesterday to inspect a GSB ATM at a gas station at the top of Vibhavadi Soi 44 in Bangkok, where it is believed the gang targeted the first machine.
He said the ATM had an electronic card made in Ukraine inserted in it before a culprit pressed cancel, which caused the machine to dispense cash without authorisation.
He said money was withdrawn three times on July 29 and 30 with Bt560,000 in total stolen.
Police would check security camera footage in the area, as it was thought the culprit/s either stayed nearby prior to the theft or travelled there after arriving at Don Mueang Airport.
Panya said a second ATM in Bangkok that the gang stole money from on July 29 was in Sukhumvit 23 and a security camera there captured a culprit withdrawing cash several times. Police believe the gang may have had Thai accomplices although there is no evidence linking any bank staff to the crimes.
Panya said no other banks had reported being hit.
He also inspected an ATM in front of Surat Thani Airport yesterday afternoon, after receiving information that a suspect got out of a car to withdraw cash at the machine.
He said three ATMs targeted in Phuket were “master” machines and the gang had either keyed in codes or hacked information from them, but did not steal money, before hitting other ATMs.
Panya said GSB was working with its ATM manufacturer to create a program to prevent these types of malware hacks, and it should be completed in three weeks and prevent further incidents like this.