A 22-year-old Finnish businessman lost $ 24 million in a bitcoin scam to a group of Thai scammers, whose alleged leader was arrested in recently.
According to the Bangkok Post, Aarni Otava Saarimaa has experience in bitcoin investing, but this did not stop a group of Thai scammers from stealing about 800 million baht in a fraudulent investment scheme.
Until now nine people have been found responsible for the scheme; three of them are brothers, and the police is waiting for the arrest warrant from the court for the other six involved.
In June 2017 the scammers contacted Aarni Otava Saarima and his partner Chonnikan Kaeosali to propose them to buy shares of three companies called Expay Group, NX Chain Inc and DNA 2002 Plc, as well as to invest in a casino seemingly based on a blockchain called Dragon.
The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in Thailand started to investigate after Kaeosali sent the first alert in January this year. The police has tracked the scam during the last six months, according to the Bangkok Post which was one of the most elaborate financial fraud cases that they have investigated.
“This case is complicated. We had to carefully examine documents and trace the money trail. We collaborated with Amlo and it took us almost seven months to get approval for the arrest warrants for the arrest warrants for the first group,” said the commander of the CSD research unit, Pol Col Chakrit.
Chakrit said that 51 bank accounts were frozen, he added that no political official is involved in the case, after researching some reports that indicated otherwise.
In turn, the local Anti Money Laundering Office pointed out that bitcoin is being used as an asset to commit fraud because its transactions are difficult to trace until the cryptocurrency is exchanged into cash.
The organization would have sold the bitcoins for fiat money that was later transferred to multiple bank accounts. One of those suspects in this fraud is famous local actor Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit, who was arrested during a movie shoot in the Chatuchak district in Bangkok. The court issued the arrest warrant on July 26 after discovering that he received part of the stolen money.
Another suspect is Prinya Jaravijit, who left the country to the United States from South Korea, and Suphitcha Jaravijit, who contacted the police to meet them on August 17. Both are the brothers of the actor above and face charges of conspiracy to launder money. The Thai authorities seek cooperation from the US authorities to deport Prinya.
For the money laundering charge, we are verifying the amount of money with commercial banks only in the accounts of the siblings and their family and relatives. The money needs to be frozen and brought back to the victims…When it is fraud, the complainants and the accused can talk and have arbitration. However, money laundering is a crime that cannot be bargained away.” added Chakrit.
According to the Bangkok Post, anonymous sources indicate that the actor would be the leading promoter of the scam, after receiving information about the victims through a Thai banker. The authorities are in the search for the other six participants, of whom 4 accepted part of the money.