Cabinet drafts decree to deal with fraudulent online money transfers

The Thai cabinet endorsed a draft executive decree on Tuesday to cope with rising online fraud, targeting individuals who knowingly open a bank account or an e-wallet for use by other people or lend their mobile phone SIM cards to the other people when they know or “should” know that they will be used for illegal activities.

These individuals will face a maximum jail term of 3 years and/or a fine of 300,000 baht if convicted.

The executive decree also targets individuals who offer for sale bank accounts, electronic cards, e-wallets or SIM cards which they “should” know may be used for illegal activities. They can face 2-5 years in prison and/or a fine of between 200,000-500,000 baht if found guilty.

It also seeks to allow financial institutions and businesses to exchange information about their business transactions and the state of bank accounts.

It will also allow the telecom service providers to exchange information with the Royal Thai Police and the Anti-Money Laundering Office.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will establish a central database to store information of registered users of short messages services, which will be used in the investigation of online fraud.

In case a victim files a complaint of online fraud with a financial institution or a business, the institution or business must notify their counterparts, which have received the money from the suspected scammers, to suspend electronic transactions immediately, pending an investigation. The transactions will be allowed to proceed if proven to be legal.

Financial institutions should also allow a 48-hour window for the victims of suspected online fraud to file complaints with authorities, who will investigate the case within seven days.

According to the cabinet, more than 114,000 online fraud cases, involving electronic money transfers, estimated to be worth about 22 billion baht between March to October last year.

The problem is that there is no specific law which empowers financial institutions or businesses to immediately halt suspected illegal financial transactions.

The draft now passes to the Council of State for review, prior to publication in the Royal Gazette and subsequent enforcement.


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