PHUKET, Thailand: Police are investigating a network still using the old “black money” scam after a 62-year-old man from Guyana was arrested in Phuket and is now under investigation for fraud reportedly amounting to B9 million.
The black money scam has been in use for more than two decades, convincing people to pay money for banknotes that the con artists insist have been removed from circulation and have been washed with black ink to make them unusable, but with the right chemicals the banknotes could be washed clean and used again.
The con artists have people make initial payments to make the banknotes available, but withhold the chemicals until the big – final – payment is made.
Usually, the “banknotes” are just regular paper literally washed in black ink.
The latest incident was announced by Immigration Bureau Chief Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn presenting details of the arrest to the press in Bangkok on Friday.
The presentation to the press was posted on Gen Surchate’s personal Facebook page, and not through the Immigration Bureau.
The Guyanese national arrested was named as Abdul Kalam Azad Sattaur, 62.
However, Thalang Police confirmed yesterday that Sattaur remains in Phuket, and has done so since his arrest on March 14. He did not travel to Bangkok to be presented to the press.
Sattaur’s arrest came on the same day that the owner of a local language school in Phuket – who police have not named – filed a complaint with the Thalang Police, reporting that she had been cheated out of B20 million, Thalang Police Deputy Superintended Lt Col Anukul Nuket explained yesterday.
“A woman came to complain about it at Thalang Police Station on March 14. She said that she had transferred about B9 million to different bank accounts outside the country,” Col Anukul said.
“We tracked him (Sattaur) down and found him at Eakkamon Mansion on Phang Nga Rd in Phuket Town at 2pm the same day,” he added.
Sattaur is accused of using a fake Facebook and LINE account to pretend to be an American man who had worked in Syria, Col Anukul said.
He allegedly claimed to send the woman a security box containing the “black-washed banknotes” with a special liquid to wash the “banknotes” clean.
The total value of the “banknotes” was reportedly given as US$650,000, equivalent to about B20mn – which the Phuket language school owner would acquire for the bargain price of B9mn.
However, the woman said that Sattaur would not send the security box containing the “banknotes” until he received payment first.
She obliged and made payments amounting to B9mn to 10 offshore accounts.
However, the security box never arrived.
Sattaur now stands accused of fraud, and is being held in custody in the detention cells at Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town, where he has remained since his arrest on Mar 14, and will remain while the investigation against him continues.
“He is charged with fraud by impersonating another person,” Col Anukul told The Phuket News today.
Col Anukul added that police have the “black money” seized as evidence, which has now been forwarded to officers in Bangkok for further investigation.
“His behaviour is connected to a network in Bangkok, but I need to question him further (today),” Col Anukul said.
Col Anukul declined to confirm whether Sattaur had confessed to the charge against him.
Sattaur’s current predicament first came to the attention of The Phuket News after his son contacted the newspaper concerned for his father’s welfare as Sattaur had not been in contact with his family for several days – which the family had found strange, and wanted to know if he were missing in Phuket.
“I believe he is missing because he is always on line and talks to my mom every day. Since the last time, she never heard back from him,” the son wrote.
Copies of Sattaur’s boarding pass and tourist visa issued in Malaysia provided to The Phuket News confirmed that Sattaur arrived in Phuket on a flight from Kuala Lumpur on March 13 – the day before his arrest.
The Phuket News has yet to receive a reply on how the family has received the news of Sattaur’s arrest. (www.thephuketnews.com)