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Scammers Make Millions Booking Early Vaccination Slots

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Six of seven members of a fraud gang have been caught by the police and face prosecution for allegedly accepting payments of Vaccination appointments. The fraudsters allegedly took money in exchange for an earlier slot in Thailand’s free Covid-19 vaccination program.

Two of the fraudsters were brought by authorities to appear before a press conference following a police crime reenactment that was attended by Thailand’s Health Minister Mr Anutin Charnvirakul.

The two were apprehended by police at their apartment in Bangkok’s Din Daeng district yesterday morning.

They were then taken to Bangkok’s Bang Sue Grand Station, which also currently doubles as Bangkok’s main Covid-19 vaccination centre. Once there the scammers showed officials how they managed to access and alter vaccine recipients data in the vaccination database.

The two were hired by a mobile phone company to help staff at the centre collect private information from elderly citizens who were walk-ins for jabs in July.

The two allegedly told police they saw an opportunity to capitalize on the system and make money.

Once vaccination scammer made a fortune

According to police, one of the scammers said, in the beginning, she would key in the names of relatives. However, when friends of the relatives were told, more and more cash offers began rolling in.

She told police that she made approximately 4 million baht for her “service”, which she used to pay off debts racked up because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health Authorities began looking for data breaches after an unusual surge of people started turning up for covid-19 vaccinations at the centre.

On one day alone, more than 2,000 people turned up at the vaccination station. The scammer and her alleged accomplices had designated Gate 4 of the station as a meet-up point.

Police then questioned some of the people who turned up at Gate 4 and they told police they had paid the scammers between 400-1,200 baht in order to get vaccinated on that day.

State vaccinations free

The deputy director of Bang Sue Grand Station, Sriluck Ubonnuea then filed a complaint with the police against the vaccination scammers for obtaining profits for vaccine appointments.

While Ms Pakamon, Mr Wichayapong and four of their accomplices have been caught, one person remains at large.

The scammers have been charged with tampering with the data system in a way that endangered national security and public health and fraud.

At the press briefing, Health Minister Mr Anutin reminded people that vaccinations under the state vaccination program were free of charge. According to the police, over 200 witnesses have been questioned so far.

Health Minister Mr Anutin said the last suspect, has informed police she will turn herself in. The scammers are believed to have raked in more than 7 million baht for vaccination “booking fees”.

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