6 June 2024

Five Indian nationals and 31 Thais have been arrested by Thai police, supported by American officials, for alleged involvement in a call centre scam network which preyed on American senior citizens in the United States.

The gang has allegedly cheated more than 300 American senior citizens, many of them doctors, university professors and businessmen, out of over 3 billion baht, Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, the deputy national police chief, told a news conference today (Wednesday) at the Royal Thai Police headquarters.

Representatives from the US Secret Service and the FBI, attached to the US Embassy in Bangkok, were also present at the news conference.

The arrests of the suspects, mostly Thai women, were made in coordinated raids in Chon Buri, Rayong, Roi-et and Surat Thani provinces in a joint Thai-US operation, codenamed “Shell Game”.

Pol Gen Torsak said that, late last year, Thai police were approached by officials from the US Secret Service, FBI and Justice Department to help investigate the call centre gang, run by Indian nationals, which had been preying on American citizens in the US since 2000.

Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau Commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Worawat Watnakornbancha said that the gang had obtained personal information of its potential prey from other Americans and, by pretending to be US officials, would contact their victims to inform them that they were being investigated for alleged money laundering. They then demanded that they wire money into their “mule” accounts if they wanted to have the cases settled without further litigation.

When the money was wired, it would be immediately withdrawn and given to the Indian masterminds, who would then transfer the money to elsewhere to avoid detection.