Police received over 200,000 complaints of online fraud, inflicting THB30 billion in losses on victims over past year


Most victims of romance scams are people in their 40s as they are the main targets of criminal gangs preying on those seeking true love online.

Police Lt-Colonel Tananat Kangruambut, an inspector at the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau, said on Friday that people in this age group tend to become easy targets as their relationships with their spouses were on a decline.

“Their spouses work so hard they have no time for intimate relationships for a long time,” he said.

According to him, online criminals carefully studied their potential victims through their public profiles before approaching them with seeming sincerity. These criminals use fake profile photos and invented profiles and backgrounds to chat with their victims to help ease their loneliness while gaining their trust.

“When the criminals manage to win the hearts of their victims, they create a feeling of bonding in those who fall prey. They then start to trick their victims to transfer money to them,” the police officer said.

He said the victims often do not consult anyone as they blame themselves for the mistake of getting involved in a secret affair.
He was speaking at a seminar on online fraud organised by the Thai Journalists Association at Asia Hotel in Bangkok.

Online fraud, including romance scams, has become a serious problem for Thailand, judging by the number of complaints filed with the Royal Thai Police.

More than 200,000 complaints with losses totalling over 30 billion baht were filed between March 1, 2022, and January 31 this year, according to the officer. The online complaints were submitted to the Thaipoliceonline.com website.

Tananat said that in many cases, the victims told police investigators that they would commit suicide unless the culprits were arrested and their money was returned. “They lost a lot of money and they were at the wits' end.”

At that point, police have to seek help from the Department of Mental Health, he said.

The department’s director-general, Dr Amporn Benjaponpitak, who was a speaker at the seminar, said on Friday that their families should be open-minded with the victims and understand their plight. She suggested that the victims should not be embarrassed about their mistakes.

“You should avoid saying something like ‘I had warned you’, or ‘You should not have fallen for people like this’. Instead, you should offer them encouragement. Tell them that they have to start anew and move on,” she said.