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Businessman accused of running pyramid scheme arrested

Mar 31. 2019
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By The Nation

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Police took into custody a 61-year-old Thai businessman accused of running a pyramid scheme that allegedly duped thousands of people and reportedly caused damage estimated at Bt3 billion, Immigration Bureau commissioner Pol Lt-General Surachate Hakparn said on Saturday at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Kittikorn Wannawasuthorn, who was wanted for fraud and other related offences, was arrested on March 29 in Vietnam where he was apprehended thanks to Thai-Vietnam police collaboration. Another wanted female suspect, Sirawanporn Chaiwatcharakup, 53, who had also fled to Vietnam with Kittikorn, remained at large, Surachate said.

Some 30 victims showed up at the airport to present flowers thanking the police’s swift action.

The Action Taskforce for Information Technology Crime Suppression (Tactics), of which Surachate serves as deputy director, received public complaints of the fraud after an alleged pyramid scam invited people to apply for membership viacofcashback.com and promised monthly dividends at up to 3.5 per cent on the invested capital per day, or 105 per cent per month. 

The alleged scam, running since October last year, had attracted thousands of people to open some 86,000 membership accounts (many members held multiple accounts) with it, resulting in Bt3 billion in losses, Surachate said. Two months later, the company shuttered and its executives disappeared, resulting in more than 1,000 people filing complaints with police.

An investigation was launched resulting in the arrest of eight suspects in Thailand, while Kittikorn and Sirawanporn fled to Vietnam, prompting a Thai-Vietnam police operation to hunt for them.

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