A fraudster has been accused of defrauding another fraudster out of more than US$115k by pledging to protect him from prosecution through his “special connection” with justice officials.
Mr. Nathapontha Yana-opas, 35, was arrested on Wednesday in central Thailand on a warrant issued on December 6, according to Pol Maj Gen Montree Theskhan, commander of the police Crime Suppression Division.
The arrest followed a complaint from another man who was defending himself in Roi Et provincial court against a fraud claim.
According to police, Mr Nathapontha approached the individual and stated that because he was close to a judge in the Court of Appeal Region 4, he could push for temporary release and arrange for the removal of an electronic monitoring bracelet.
The fraudster then made a successful application on the man’s behalf using standard judicial procedures. He then sought US$105k in compensation for his efforts.
Mr Nathapontha claimed he was close to Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, the chief of the Central Investigation Bureau, and would plead for mercy because the victim was also facing computer crime charges.
The victim trusted him and handed him US$10k more.
When the victim realized he had been duped, he filed a complaint with the police station in Chiang Mai province as well as the Bangkok Crime Suppression Division.
Mr. Nathapontha had been prosecuted in more than 20 fraud cases over the last decade, including those involving faulty cheques and false air ticket reservations, according to Pol Maj Gen Montree.
Fraudsters who write bad cheques
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed its first reading of the government-sponsored bill seeking to decriminalise the writing of bad cheques except in fraud cases.
The bill to alter the Offences Arising from the Use of Cheques Act BE 2534 (1991) would prevent the use of criminal liability against individuals who mistakenly write bad cheques, according to Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong, who addressed the house.
According to him, the proposed change would also be consistent with the constitution’s Section 77, which specifies that only very serious crimes shall be subject to criminal punishment.
Legislators from both parties agreed that the current legislation was out of date and voted in support of the idea. They reached a consensus that, absent willful misconduct, no one should face criminal charges.
According to United Thai Nation Party list-MP Anucha Buraphachaisri, the penalty for signing a bad check is up to 60,000 baht and/or a year in prison under the present legislation.
Even while the rule is in place to make people feel more comfortable using checks, he added that many times people just can’t afford to pay them, and it’s not because of criminal intent.
He did say that dishonest people should still face criminal punishment for check fraud and that people should still face civil lawsuits whether they intentionally write bogus checks or not.
Thai lawmaker Thirajchai Phantumas of the Move Forward Party (MFP) expressed his general support for the legislation, but warned that it could damage public trust in cheques if proper steps aren’t taken to handle defective ones.
Banks should be more careful when extending credit lines and should investigate consumers’ check accounts more thoroughly, according to Mr. Thirajchai. Anusorn Iamsa-ad, a list-MP of the Pheu Thai Party, echoed these sentiments and emphasized the need to hold perpetrators of fraud accountable.
The old regulation is now outdated, according to Mr. Anusorn, since payments have already moved to electronic transactions.
Legislators approved the measure with a resounding voice vote. There will be further examination of the bill by a 25-member group. It contains provisional provisions that, upon the law’s implementation, require the release of anyone jailed for the purpose of signing bad checks.