4,000 claim to be swindled in currency investment scam

Victims of the “forex investment” pyramid scheme gather at the Department of Special Investigation in June to submit evidence to back their complaint. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) says at least 4,000 people have been allegedly swindled by a currency investment scam which failed to offer the returns promised to investors.

DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang said the department mounted an investigation after it accepted the alleged fraud as a special case on July 21, said Pol Lt Col Phayao Thongsen, director of the DSI’s Bureau of Special Crime 1.

The investigation was prompted by complaints filed with the DSI by some of the investors who claimed they were not getting the returns they had been promised by two investment firms.

According to the DSI, System Plug and Play Co and Innovision Holding Co had organised investment seminars which drew many participants.

A director of both firms, identified as Phudis Kittitharadilok, allegedly told participants their money would be invested in Forex, the DSI said. Pol Lt Col Phayao said at least 4,000 people across the country may have invested in the scheme advertised by the firms.

Pol Lt Col Phayao said Mr Phudis promised a 7% yield on the investment each week for a year’s duration, which meant the yield would be as high as 364% a year.

Some of the investors said they received the yields but others did not.

The DSI posted an online complaint form on its website which can be accessed by Android-based smart phones if more people wished to raise their case with the department, Pol Lt Col Phayao said.

Many investors live in the northern provinces, including Chiang Mai. DSI officials will ask to interview them.

Investors in Bangkok can complain directly to the DSI head office from next week. Complaints submitted in other provinces will be gathered and sent to the office.

DSI investigators expect to wrap up the case and seek indictment of the firms’ director soon, said Pol Lt Col Phayao, warning people should take precautions investing in schemes which promise excessively high returns.

Immigration records show Mr Phudis left Thailand on April 18. He was detained by immigration authorities when he returned to the country on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two people lodged a complaint yesterday at the DSI, asking the agency to catch a woman they accused of swindling money from them.

Jidapha Kiewnawa, one of the complainants, said her close friend, Jamroon Cheuphut, five years ago borrowed about two million baht from her to pay off interest on a loan she obtained to buy land.

Ms Jidapha, who earned 2.1 million baht from the sale of an 11 rai-land plot in Surat Thani in 2012, gave the money to Ms Jamroon, who signed a cheque worth two million baht as a guarantee.

She said a month later, Ms Jamroon could not be reached and the cheque bounced.

Ms Jidapha said she lodged a complaint against Ms Jamroon with Wiang Sa police station in Surat Thani. However, the investigation made no headway. As the statute of limitations in the case will expire on Oct 11, she wants the DSI to help track down Ms Jamroon.

She said 20 other people in the district also loaned 30 million baht to the woman.

DSI deputy spokesman Woranan Srilam said the DSI is not in charge of the case, but it will transfer the complaint to Provincial Police Region 8 and request a search for the woman be expedited.

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