Cybercrime Bureau Cracks Down on Mule Bank Accounts - News

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Cybercrime Bureau Cracks Down on Mule Bank Accounts

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Thailand’s Cybercrime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) is seeking to tighten rules to combat online shopping fraud on e-commerce platforms.

CCIB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Kornchai Klayklueng said the Cybercrime Police will work with the Bank of Thailand to fight against online shopping and consumer fraud, above all targeting mule accounts.

Mule accounts are bank accounts that are opened and owned by third-party individuals. They are primarily used by online shopping and consumer fraudsters to collect ill-gotten gains. The scammers use them because more often than not they cannot be traced back to them.

Thailand’s Cyber Police are now floating a proposal asking the Kingdom’s commercial banks to urge online shopping vendors to register with the banks to add credibility to their stores. Pol Lt Gen Kornchai said commercial banks and the Bank of Thailand have welcomed the idea.

He said the proposed rules will be discussed with the Thai Bankers Association and Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office. The above all plan is to root out fraudulent online vendors and is expected to take shape by the end of this year.

500 people cheated in smartphone scam

Online fraud and call-centre scams are among Thailand’s Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau’s top 5 investigation and crime suppression tasks. The Cyber Crime Unit lately joined the Royal Thai Police in tracking down a 19-year-old woman who allegedly cheated around 500 people, by selling them non-existent phones online.

Prior to the woman’s capture, two other young women were detained on suspicion of being hired by the woman to open mule bank accounts for her. The 19-year-old woman has of course denied knowing the suspects.

The woman identified as 19-year-old Miss Piyada Thongkhampan has been on the Cyber Police’s radar after the death of a 14-year-old secondary school student in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai province. He died of a hemorrhagic stroke after learning he had been duped.

Miss Piyada allegedly advertised smartphones on the Instagram account, Phonebymint, which had more than 60,000 followers. The Instagram followers apparently also gave her online credibility. According to the Bangkok Post Miss Piyada only targeted young nieve students. She lured them by selling popular smartphones at cheap prices.

According to police, the boy’s family said he paid 5,000 baht for an iPhone 7 which he needed to take online classes.

Once he paid Miss Piyada she ghosted him and the smartphone was never delivered. The stress caused by the loss of money and not being able to attend online classes reportedly led to the hemorrhagic stroke that killed him.

Cybercrime fraudster blacklist

The Cybercrime Investigation Bureau started an investigation starting with the Instagram account which identified the vendor as Miss Piyada. After gathering sufficient evidence, Cyber police worked with local police to acquire an arrest warrant.

Mis Piyada was initially charged with fraud and breaching Thailand’s Computer Act. Cyber police have expanded the investigation to determine if her boyfriend and also his family were involved in the smartphone scam.

Pol Lt Gen Kornchai said Miss Piyada was on an online fraudster blacklist and has been linked to at least three dodgy schemes. Her Phonebymint Instagram smartphone scam is believed to be her eighth online scam.

Police have confirmed she used 17 mule bank accounts for fraudulent transactions. Cybercrime police are investigating 143 other transactions linked to her scams. To date, 53 people have lodged complaints against Miss Piyada for damages of approximately 685,000 baht.

The Cybercrime Investigation Bureau has uncovered that she paid people for their bank accounts and opened online stores to sell second-hand smartphones. The mule bank accounts also made it difficult for police to trace because they are used to hide the money trail, Pol Lt Gen Kornchai said.

Source: Bangkok Post

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