Thai Police believe that a Russian expat living in Phuket is behind the online forex trading scam that was conducted through SiamOption.com. The scam managed to trick 1.4 million people into investing 730 million baht ($22 million), the local currency in Thailand.
According to a report from The Phuket News, a weekly English language newspaper, Maj Ekkachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police confirmed on Thursday that the Russian expat in question is 37-year-old Alexey Chikalov from St Petersburg.
On Wednesday this week, the Deputy Commander Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn of Tourist Police announced the arrest of 19 suspects involved in the scam. They were arrested following coordinated raids in Bangkok, Khon Kaen and Phuket.
In Phuket, six raids were conducted, with the main one being at the office of Helix Thai Beach Co Ltd (Phuket) at 26/164 Chao Fa Rd East, Chalong. From the raids in Phuket, nine people were arrested.
Commenting on the raids, Gen Surachate said: “This is quite a big network. There are major investors behind this, one of them is a Russian – but he has already fled Phuket. Right now were are tracking about B130 million in the scheme, but there is another B600mn that we are trying to get back for the victims.”
In Khon Kaen, the raid targeted the office of Helix Thai Beach Co Ltd. (Khon Kaen) located at No. 3/1 Moo 14 Srichan Rd, Ban Phet, Muang District, Khon Kaen Province. In this raid, 10 people were arrested.
The raids are the result of a number of complaints that were filed with Khon Kaen Governor Dr Somsak Jungtrakul.
Details of the scam
Through SiamOption.com, traders were offered the “opportunity” to invest in 40 different assets. This includes currency pairs, indexes, stocks and commodities. Before being able to trade, the investor would first have to pay a subscription fee.
However, once the money was transferred investors were not able to invest as advertised. Instead of being used as a subscription fee, the funds were actually transferred to a CryptoIndex e-currency and “metals” fund.
In total, the scam had about 1.4 million subscriptions. According to Gen Surachate, about 100,000 new accounts were added each month. The total income from the account subscriptions was around 20 million baht ($601,649).
Per year, this amounted to a total turnover of 100 million baht ($3 million). However, all bank and online accounts linked to the group have been frozen.