CHIANGRAI TIMES – Investigators from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) have arrested a couple for involvement in a jewellery scam alleged to have duped people in Nakhon Pathom and Bangkok out of Bt400 million, DSI chief Tharit Pengdit told a press conference yesterday.
The arrests, made at the couple’s Nakhon Pathom home after the criminal court issued warrants for them, followed a complaint filed to the DSI by Poonyavee Rangsi-athiwat and others. The complaint alleged that Chuangchote Akharapanyawat and his wife Thanalak, along with Chuangchote’s niece, Sriwarin Poonthanarom (also known as Sansanee Wanichkirati), duped 17 people into investing in a fake diamond/jewellery scheme between March 1, 2010 and January 6 this year.
Police are looking for Sriwarin.
Tharit said Sriwarin had the couple invite acquaintances to invest with Sriwarin in the scheme, promising high returns of around 10 per cent per month, or 120 per cent per year. The victims were told that Sriwarin had a jewellery business called Hor Heng Heng in the Silom area and was a member of the “national diamond auction committee”, which purportedly imported diamonds from other countries and auctioned them. To get them interested in investing, victims were told that Chuangchote and Thanalak had invested with Sriwarin and earned 18 per cent profit a month.
The DSI found documentary evidence of financial transactions between the victims and Sriwarin or the couple’s son, Pattanapong Santiparapop. It also determined that neither Sriwarin nor her shop were registered as an importer-exporter with the Customs Department, and that the Hor Heng Heng shop in Silom existed but belonged to another person who didn’t know of Sriwarin or her claims.
The DSI was told by Somchai Pornjindarak, president of the Thai Gems and Jewellery Traders Association, that he didn’t know Sriwarin, that Thailand didn’t have such a committee and that the last diamond auction here was held a decade ago.
The DSI is hunting for Sriwarin, who withdrew nearly all her money and fled, while her house in Samut Prakan has reportedly been locked and empty since last December.
Denying any wrongdoing, Chuangchote said he should be considered a victim, because he and his wife invested Bt10 million with Sriwarin. He insisted he didn’t deceive the affected persons, and that the victims invested willingly because they saw what he described as huge profits earned by him and his wife