22-year-old from Finland tricked by huge investment fraud plot in Thailand
A Finnish millionaire has been conned out of $35 million worth of bitcoin by cryptocurrency scammers in Thailand, according to a local report.
22-year-old Aarni Otava Saarimaa lost 5,564.4 bitcoins, according to the Bangkok Post, after inadvertently sending them to fraudsters in the country.
Mr Saarimaa believed he was investing in a new cryptocurrency called Dragon Coin, as well as a casino.
A six-month investigation by Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD) uncovered a group of nine people who used the cryptocurrency to convert the funds into local currency and invest in land.
Among the suspects in the plot is 27-year-old soap actor Jiratpisit ‘Boom’ Jaravijit, who was arrested by local police while filming in Bangkok, as well as several of his siblings.
“This case is complicated. We had to carefully examine documents and trace the money trail,” CSD deputy commander Pol Col Chakrit Sawasdee told the Bangkok Post.
“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.”
The CSD said a total of 51 bank accounts have been frozen and several plots of land believed to have been acquired with the stolen money were also seized.
Investigators say that enquiries have been complicated by the use of cryptocurrency, which allows funds to be tracked through the blockchain but is semi-anonymous by design.
“We had to carefully examine documents and trace the money trail,” Mr Chakrit said. “It took us almost seven months to get approval for the arrest warrants.”
It is not the first time local celebrities have been caught up in cryptocurrency scams, with several Bollywood actors in India implicated in a $300 million scheme earlier this year.