An alleged cryptocurrency pyramid scheme which defrauded investors out of 75 million baht (around $2.4 million) is being investigated by members of the Thai Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
According to local news outlet the Bangkok Post, the scheme, which ran throughout 2018, promised investors phenomenal returns through cryptocurrency trading.
Victims were urged to invest at least 100,000 baht (around $3,200) into the scheme, which fraudsters promised would grow by 8,000 baht per week.
Investors were told that consistent 8% returns were possible each week, with dividends to be paid to victims weekly.
The scheme, called ‘Khung Nong Cryptocurrency Trading’, recruited affiliates to sell the scheme to other victims in order to earn a portion of their revenue – the basis for a classic pyramid scheme.
Some victims sold their assets to take part in the scheme, which in some cases included personal property and vehicles.
One named victim, Noopad Wachedi, said that the fraudsters claimed that the investment scheme was regulated and overseen by local state officials.
However, those in control of Khung Nong Cryptocurrency Trading stopped paying dividends in February 2019, claiming that cryptocurrency returns had slowed.
As a result, victims reported cheques from the scheme which bounced while the recruiters and leaders of the scam vanished.
Human rights lawyer urges investigation
Phadungsak Tienpairoj, a local human rights foundation leader and lawyer, has taken it upon himself to take the case to the Department of Special Investigation, claiming the local Ko Lanta police had done little to advance the case.
Tienpairoj gathered some 20 victims of the pyramid scheme, who collectively had lost millions of Baht, to give evidence to the DSI.
Local news has not named any perpetrators in the case, and it’s unclear whether any arrests have been made.
Thailand has become a popular country for crypto scammers to launch their schemes. In December 2019, 24 Chinese nationals were arrested in Bangkok for a scam which sold Bitcoin at inflated prices.
Similarly, in August 2018, a Finnish national was scammed out of a huge $24 million in BTC, around 5,500 coins, by Thai fraudsters who promised him a lucrative investment scheme.
Thai authorities have been quick to respond to alleged cryptocurrency scams. However, the cheap cost of living in the Southeast Asian country has made it an attractive location for would-be scammers worldwide.
You can read more about cryptocurrency fraud in Thailand here.