Couple scams Thai expats in Australia out of US$1.5 million
One victim invested US$22,000 into bogus savings programme that offered an interest rate above bank rates along with luxury bags and jewellery
By King-Oua Laohong
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in Thailand has received a complaint alleging that more than 250 Thai expats in Australia have been cheated by a Thai couple out of at least 50 million baht (US$1.5 million).
Ms Pimlada, whose surname was not provided, filed a complaint with the DSI claiming she was among the more than 250 Thai expats and students in Sydney who were conned in a bogus investment scam.
Ms Pimlada, 37, said the couple conducted a social media live session to advertise an investment scheme targeting Thais, many of whom live in Sydney, Australia’s largest city.
People were lured into investing in a savings programme that offered an interest rate above bank rates.
She said the scheme promised a handsome return of A$4,000 (US$2,945) within three months based on a principal investment of A$4,500 (US$3,314). The interest was expected to keep rising every quarter, she said.
Eager to maximise her profits, she agreed to invest A$30,000 (US$22,092). The couple also offered a foreign exchange service that provided higher-than-market rates for different currency exchanges.
Ms Pimlada said the couple asked “investors” to wire money to their personal bank accounts. The couple communicated with their members through the social media live session and the Line chat app, where they attracted potential investors by promising to give them premium goods if they signed up for the scheme. The items included luxury bags, lipstick and gold jewellery.
The couple claimed they were wealthy with more than enough financial resources to sustain the scheme.
Ms Pimlada said many Thai expats and students were duped and poured their money into it. However, after they transferred their funds to the couple, they never received any return.
When the subscribers asked for these, or sought to withdraw their money, the couple would leave the chat groups on Line.
The couple also did not answer or return phone calls.
According to Ms Pimlada, the couple had threatened subscribers who demanded a refund. She said several subscribers had sought help from the Thai consulate in Sydney and complained to the Australian police.
Ms Pimlada said she and some other subscribers have since returned to Thailand. She lodged a complaint with the Technology Crime Suppression Division against the couple only to be told the agency has no authority to take up the case. She decided to turn to the DSI for help. Ms Pimlada said she had sent documentary evidence about the scam to the DSI.