Thai Authorities Bust $33 Million Online Gold Scam, Detain Chinese Nationals and Thai Accomplices.

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In a significant operation, the Royal Thai Police revealed that they have successfully dismantled an online gold investment scam worth 1.2 billion baht, equivalent to a staggering $33.1 million. The sophisticated scheme, masterminded by six Chinese nationals and supported by 20 Thai individuals, operated by promoting a fictitious gold investment opportunity on Facebook, luring unsuspecting victims with the promise of implausible returns ranging from 20% to 30%.

Key Highlights:

  1. Massive Online Gold Scam Exposed: Thai authorities have successfully dismantled a substantial online gold investment scam valued at $33.1 million, orchestrated by a group of Chinese nationals and Thai individuals.
  2. Deceptive Facebook Pages: The fraudsters employed fake Facebook pages, operating under the name “Aurora Gold Trading,” to attract unsuspecting victims with promises of unrealistically high returns, ranging from 20% to 30%.
  3. Stringent Raids and Arrests: The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) carried out extensive raids across 21 locations in Bangkok and seven other provinces, leading to the arrest of 26 suspects and the seizure of assets valued at 30.9 million baht.
  4. Complex Money Laundering Operation: The gang used a sophisticated money laundering operation, involving the purchase of various commodities, acquisition of digital currencies, and even investments in properties within Thailand.
  5. Investigations Ongoing: Thai authorities are actively investigating the involvement of legal advisors of the nominee companies and monitoring the movements of the Chinese leaders who frequently entered and exited the country.

Summary: Thai authorities have cracked down on a massive $33.1 million online gold scam masterminded by Chinese nationals and aided by Thai accomplices. The scammers utilized deceptive Facebook pages to lure victims with high-return promises. Rigorous raids across multiple locations resulted in arrests and the seizure of assets. The gang operated a complex money laundering scheme involving various transactions. Investigations are ongoing, highlighting the authorities’ commitment to combating sophisticated online fraud.

Cracking Down on the Scam

The Thai Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) initiated a series of raids across 21 locations in Bangkok and seven other provinces, leading to the apprehension of 26 suspects and the seizure of assets valued at 30.9 million baht. These raids aimed to uncover the full extent of the operation and bring those responsible to justice.

The Scope of the Scam

During these operations, the police made some critical discoveries. They seized digital currency accounts totaling 28 million baht on Bitkub, a prominent digital asset exchange platform in Thailand. Additionally, they secured 23 bank books, 21 mobile phones, 19 SIM cards, 100,000 baht in cash, and eight notebook computers.

Leadership and Deception

The group behind the scam was reportedly led by four identified Chinese nationals, namely Aixia Liu (48), Long Huabiao (38), Yangfeng Xiao (29), and Liang Wang (28), along with the involvement of a Thai woman, Sakuna Chansuk (44). Notably, two other Chinese individuals involved in the scheme have not yet been named.

The fraudsters operated systematically, with various responsibilities allocated for different tasks. These included the creation of fake Facebook pages, engaging and deceiving victims, managing transfers through mule accounts, and conducting money laundering activities.

Promising Unrealistic Returns

The deceptive Facebook pages, operating under the name “Aurora Gold Trading,” enticed investors with the promise of extraordinarily high returns. However, when victims attempted to withdraw their investments, they were met with excuses and subsequently blocked from the pages. This resulted in numerous individuals falling victim to the scam, as confirmed by Col Thirapas, the Operation Chief.

Involvement of Thai Accomplices

The police revealed that Thai accomplices were engaged by the Chinese ringleaders to establish three nominee companies to facilitate the money laundering process. These accomplices helped operate three tiers of bank accounts owned by Thai nationals before ultimately transferring funds to accounts controlled by the Chinese leaders.

Complex Money Laundering Operation

The criminals executed a multi-layered money laundering operation. Initially, the gang purchased various commodities, such as fertilizer, air-conditioners, and auto parts. These items were then exported to Laos and Cambodia through one of the nominee companies.

The gang also utilized a separate firm to acquire digital currencies through Bitkub, and another entity was involved in purchasing properties within Thailand. The total amount circulated among the three companies was estimated to be around 1.2 billion baht.

Charges and Investigations

While most of the suspects initially denied the charges, some individuals did admit to their involvement in the criminal activities, as reported by official sources. The authorities are currently investigating whether the legal advisors of the three nominee companies were aware of the illicit operations.

A Different Kind of Scam Operation

Unlike traditional call-center scam operations targeting Thai nationals from neighboring countries, this particular gang operated within Thailand, primarily using the internet to deceive victims rather than employing conventional phone-based methods. The Central Investigation Bureau had been monitoring the movements of the four Chinese leaders, noting their frequent entries and exits from the country. This major crackdown on a multi-million dollar online gold scam highlights the importance of vigilance in the digital age, as scammers become increasingly sophisticated in their tactics. Thai authorities have taken significant steps to dismantle this operation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

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