A 22-year-old cryptocurrency millionaire has lost more than 5,500 bitcoins in an alleged investment scam in Thailand that drew public attention due to the alleged involvement of a Thai film actor.
According to a media report from Bangkok Post on Monday, a group of Thai people approached and solicited Finnish businessman Aarni Otava Saarimaa in June 2017 for investing in several Thai stocks, a casino in Macau as well as a new cryptocurrency called Dragon Coin.
The group touted that upon issuance, the Dragon Coin can be used at the casino, the report said. They also brought Saarimaa to casino in Macau to show the legitimacy of the plan. Saarimaa, who bought into the scheme, transferred a total of 5,564 bitcoins to the group, the report said.
Yet having seen no returns at all months after the investment, Saarimaa filed a complaint to Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in January together with his local business partner who believed the investment plan was a scam.
The CSD subsequently started an investigation and alleged in the report that the group did not make any investments for Saarimaa but instead liquidated all the bitcoins into Thai baht, which were deposited into seven bank accounts.
Although it is unclear when the group sold the bitcoin assets, the CSD said the fraudsters made profits of nearly 800 million baht, or around $24 million.
And, following a months-long investigation, the CSD suspected that the Thai film actor Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit was involved in the plan and arrested him last Wednesday.
In addition, the CSD alleged that the actor’s sibling Prinya Jaravijit is suspected to be the “ringleader” of the scheme, who had left Thailand for the U.S. via South Korea. The CSD is now working on collaborating with authorities in the U.S. to track down the primary suspect, the report said.
Thai baht image via Shutterstock