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Growing threat of scammers preying on Thais

Growing threat of scammers preying on Thais

Over 200,000 Thais are targeted by scammers each day, resulting in an annual flood of fraud involving 20.8 million calls and 58.3 million text messages (SMS), according to the caller-identification app Whoscall.

For many victims, the losses are so significant that their lives are virtually ruined.

“I was living a happy retirement until I received that call,” said an 81-year-old man, recounting how he unknowingly transferred over 22 million baht to a gang of fraudsters last month.

Not only did he lose all his life’s savings, but he now owes more than 3 million baht on a home loan due to the gang’s deception.

Call of Doom

The elderly victim, who asked to be identified by his first name, Praisan, said he answered a call from a man claiming to work for a bank in Ayutthaya on May 11.

The caller alleged that someone had stolen his identity to open a bank account for money laundering. The caller mentioned that the bank had contacted Ayutthaya police and was cooperating with their investigation.

“Then, I got another call from a man who claimed he was a police major,” Praisan said. “He said I had to testify, but added that since I was elderly, I could give a statement via the Line app.”

Praisan believed the callers because they showed him what appeared to be a court warrant for an investigation of his assets.

“The order said that once my name was cleared in this ‘secret’ investigation, I would be declared innocent and be financially compensated,” he said.

On May 12, a woman called Praisan and informed him that the investigation would be easier if he opened bank applications and reported to the police major.

He was then persuaded to transfer all his money to them, believing it was going to the National Anti-Corruption Commission as part of the investigation.

Worse still, he was lured into selling his stock portfolio and mortgaging his house to gather more money to wire to the scammers.

“Eventually they said that my name had been cleared but informed me I would have to deposit another 2.2 million baht to get my money back.”

Facing financial ruin, the elderly man turned to his son, who works in the Singapore stock market.

“He told me that I had been scammed,” Praisan said.

The shock was so immense that Praisan lost 3 kilos in weight within weeks and even considered suicide.

“I have not been able to rest properly ever since,” he said, his voice choked with emotion.

Scamming Techniques

Victims of all ages have come forward to seek help and share their stories of being tricked into handing over their savings in recent months.

In Kamphaeng Phet, two sisters in their 30s lost 7.6 million baht, mostly via a fake digital-loan app. In Chon Buri, 74-year-old Thongchai Boonko lost over 3.2 million baht to scammers pretending to be Department of Special Investigation officers.

An elderly woman was scammed out of 1.6 million baht when she transferred 50,000 baht to a fake currency exchange service and then another 1.1 million to a social media page claiming to be a police unit helping victims like her.

How to Beat the Scammers

Pinyo Treepetcharaporn, director of the Bank of Thailand’s Information Technology Risk Management Office, advised that people protect themselves by staying informed about the different scamming techniques employed by fraudsters.

They should also avoid clicking on suspicious links received via Line messages, emails, or SMS.

“Pay close attention to possible risks, set difficult-to-guess passwords, and update your mobile phone software regularly,” he said.

People who suspect they have been scammed are advised to contact their bank or the Anti-Online Scam Operation Centre (AOC) via the 24-hour 1441 hotline immediately. They can also file a police complaint online through

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