BANGKOK, THAILAND — A 33-year-old male Chinese national has been arrested by Royal Thai police from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD) for being the alleged key leader of a multi-national organised crime gang which involving in cryptocurrency scams and human trafficking crimes.
Huang Tian-yong or “Ah Yong”, was arrested at the parking lot of Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok last Saturday (29 Oct).
He has since been charged with human trafficking and forced labour offences and Huang has denied all charges filed against him.
According to Police Lieutenant General Jirabhop Bhuridej, commissioner of the Thai Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), Huang founded a 19-member gang and was involved in scamming people to invest in fake cryptocurrency schemes via dating apps.
The gang is said to include 11 Thais, three PRC nationals, three Myanmar nationals, a Malaysian and a Filipino. Police believe that Huang and other Chinese played a leading role and funded the whole scamming operation.
According to police, the gang will first scam individuals to apply for a job that is actually to work as a call scammer.
Jirabhop said the scammed workers were forced to cross the Thai border via natural border passages to work in a call centre in Myawaddy, Myanmar, opposite Mae Sot district of Thai’s Tak Province.
These workers were forced to reach out and contact potential Thai victims via dating apps such as Tinder, Blumboo, Jaumo Dating and Badoo, and persuade them to invest in fake cryptocurrency schemes. They will later hand over victims’ details to Malaysians or Filipino call centre workers to close the deal.
These job-scam victims were placed under forced labour for 12 hours a day for whole weeks, without days off.
If they failed to meet targets, they might face punishment such as confinement, torture, head-shaving, or electric shocks.
Thai police had successfully rescued seven such job-scam victims from the gang.
Workers who wish to leave were told they had to pay 50,000 baht, and some had to borrow money from their relatives to get free.
Police Major General Saruti Khwaengsopha, commander of the ATPD, said Huang returned to Thailand in May, and opened a boxing camp named “Ayong Gym” as a business to launder money. Police also arrested seven other members out of 19 of the gang.
According to non-profit Global Anti-Scam Organisation (Gaso), since mid-2021, an estimated nearly 2,000 victims felled into “pig-butchering” online scams, which is a hybrid of love and investment scams that is gaining traction worldwide, with a total financial loss of more than US$310 million.