An ongoing Thai police investigation has discovered that a surprisingly wide network of recipients benefited from a Bitcoin scam.
The Bitcoin was taken under false pretences from a Finnish man and his Thai business partner and disseminated to, amongst others, a local movie star, and a few local banks.
$35 million opportunity
According to The Bangkok Post, a Thai criminal gang told a 22-year old Finnish national (Aarni Otava Saarimaa) and a Thai businesswoman (Chonnikan Kaeosali) that ‘Dragon Coins’ can be used to invest in local companies and casinos, so they bought $35 million worth of them. They paid for them with 5,564.4 bitcoins, to be more precise.
However, no investments were actually made. Instead, the BTC was converted to 797 million Thai baht, which was distributed as follows:
- 21 million ($63,1008) went to Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit, the aforementioned actor. He has been arrested and charged with money laundering.
- 140 million ($4,206,720) went to Jiratpisit’s older sister Suphitcha, who denies any knowledge of the scam. She was arrested and released on bail.
- 111 million ($3,335,328) went to Jiratpisit’s older brother Prinya. Jiratpisit and Suphitcha are blaming him for the whole thing, and he has fled to the US.
- 90 million ($2,704,320) was given to the siblings’ mother, who then transferred 40 million to their father. Their home has been searched and their accounts frozen.
- 66.5 million ($1,998,192) was claimed by a Stock Exchange of Thailand investor named Prasit Srisuwan. Reportedly, he told Saarimaa and Kaeosali that he would buy shares on their behalf, but the victims claim theft. Srisuwan is attempting to buy back the shares and return the money to avoid prosecution.
In addition to these individuals, three Thai banks (Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, and Kasikornbank) have been found to have processed some of the money. Employees are required by law to report all transfers of 2 million baht and over, but employees at these institutions failed to do so.
Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division is currently gathering evidence to seek warrants for the arrest of six more people.
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Win big in Macau
The scam revolved around a cryptocurrency called Dragon Coin.
According to its website, Dragon Coin is an Ethereum-based token designed for use in the casino sector. Specifically, it is meant to be used in junkets, which are private rooms in a casino where VIP guests gamble for high stakes. According to the white paper, a major junket in Macau can turn over $250 million a day, but the hosts have to pay fees of up to 7 percent to stake money against the gamblers.
Dragon Corp. proposes that fiat money be converted to DRG to solve this problem. The tokens can also be used as chips, which are called Dragon Global Chips, or DGC.
Macau is a special administrative region of China. The white paper says that it is the world’s largest casino system, with winnings of $30 billion in 2017 compared to the $11 billion won in Nevada casinos in 2016.
After it became clear that they had been had, the victims reported the theft to the CSD. “This is a case which can be settled,” said CSD chief Pol Maj Gen Maitree.
Cryptocurrency in Thailand
In contrast to what has happened/is happening in many other countries, the Thai government approached the newly emerging industry in a calm and logical fashion. It quickly understood that the entrance of cryptocurrency was inevitable, but temporarily blocked national banks from doing businesses with cryptocurrency while it worked out regulations.