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Thai couple wanted for alleged B100m ponzi scheme

Thai couple wanted for alleged B100m ponzi scheme

The Criminal Court on Tuesday approved warrants for the arrest of a couple accused of operating a ponzi scheme offering returns of up to 93% a month, with about 120 people alleging they were defrauded out of about 100 million baht.

Pol Col Padol Jandon, a superintendent of the Economic Crime Suppression Division, said the warrants were for the arrest of Wantanee Thipprawet, aka Mae Mani, 28, and her 20-year-old boyfriend Methee Chinnapha.

They face charges of public fraud, public fraud-related borrowing and putting false information into computer systems.

Pol Col Padol said about 120 people had filed complaints with the division. Officers had already questioned about 20 of them, who alleged they were conned out of 35 million baht in total.

“They transferred money to the bank accounts of both suspects,” he said

Police were hunting for the wanted couple. The case was being handled as urgent because a lot of people in many areas suffered great damage, he said.

About 200 people filed their complaints at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on Monday. About 60 victims from Nakhon Ratchasima province arrived at the department on Tuesday and  lodged their grievances.

One victim said she lost 21 million baht to the scheme.

On Monday Piyasiri Watanawarangkun, DSI director for informal financial crime, said pyramid scheme operators commonly lured victims by promising around 15% monthly returns.

He was shocked to learn the Mae Mani scheme offered returns as high as 93%.

Victims invested at various levels, but all said the scheme began in March. Members were initially happy,  with well-paid returns – until payments stopped this month.

The DSI learned that Ms Wantanee was a native of Udon Thani province and had earlier sold dolls online. She promoted her scheme via social media.

Plaintiffs said she arranged for meetings with people willing to make large investments while promoting her scheme.