$35m Bitcoin Casino Scam Helped by Thailand Banks

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In a story that could be described as one of the biggest warnings not to fall easily for cryptocurrency investment proposals, Thai local authorities uncover a group of local banks, scammers, and a stock exchange investor who worked together to steal around $35 million worth of Bitcoin from a Finnish investor.

The story made big headlines a week ago when reports surfaced online of a young millionaire who was duped into investing Bitcoins in a variety of businesses, including tokens that were supposed to be used for a cryptocurrency casino in Macau.  And now, new findings show that the scam was not just a lucky coincidence.

$5,564 Bitcoins Gone to a Fake Casino Investment

If you haven’t heard the story yet, a 22-year-old investor from Finland named Aarni Otava Saarima was revealed last week as a victim to a $35 million scam that involved a group of Thai individuals and fake cryptocurrency investment opportunities. Reportedly, Saarima sought new investment ideas for his cryptocurrency fund and found through a Thai partner a group of “businessmen” from Thailand that proposed him with a fake investment opportunity.

As the story goes, Saarima was duped into giving away 5,564.4 Bitcoins to the Thai group, or around $35 million in USD value. Not one to hand over the money lightly, the Finnish millionaire was reportedly taken to a trip to a Macau casino by the group where he could assess the profitability of his investment.

Among the opportunities presented to Saarima were several cryptocurrency businesses, including an ICO for a cryptocurrency casino and Dragon Coin tokens which were (allegedly) to be accepted by Macau casinos in the future. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the tokens were launched by the Dragon Corp company which was very talked about in online media and even warned against by Macau regulatory authorities.

However, instead of investing the money received by Saarima, the group actually converted it back to Thai currency and dispersed it over several members, including a Thai soap actor. And recent findings show that there were more parties involved in the $35m theft.

Three Banks and Stock Investor Caught Up in the Investigation

The ensuing investigation by local authorities uncovered a wide network of participants in the scam. The name all reports heavily focused on is Soap opera actor Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit who received around $631,000 of the money in his bank account. His mother, father, older sister, and older brother also received large portions of the money in their respective accounts, but so did Prasit Srisuwan – a local investor in the Stock Exchange of Thailand who took $1.9 million from Saarima and his partner to invest in stocks.

But what’s even more surprising was the involvement of three local banks (Siam Commercial Bank, Bangkok Bank, and Kasikornbank) which processed the money. By law, bank employees are obligated to report any money transfers that exceed 2,000,000 Thai Bahts (approximately $61,000). But in this case, no employees from all of the three banks have reported anything to the authorities, raising suspicion about whether more individuals were involved in the matter.

August 22, 2018: • No Comments

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