In the immortal words of “Blackadder Goes Forth”, I’ve got to admire your balls, sir. Anyone these days can orchestrate a fraud: what with the Internet giving you access to all the gullible people in the world (of which it seems there is an unlimited supply), the challenge has gone. So, following in the footsteps of those who break into prisons for the thrill, we have a Thai fraudster – as yet unidentified – who is perpetrating a fraud using the name of the head of his country’s Financial Intelligence Unit.
A woman in Bangkok has turned up at the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO – the Thai FIU) to ask it to return about 30 million baht [about £612,000] which she claims to have transferred to a bank account belonging to the agency’s chief. She says that she was contacted in November 2011 by a man claiming to be AMLO Secretary General Police Colonel Seehanat Prayoonrat, who asked her to transfer 2 million baht a day to his account but not to tell other government agencies as it was a top-secret request. She did this for two months, and then apparently thought better of it and went to AMLO, deposit slips in hand, to ask for a refund. We are astounded to learn that preliminary enquiries have shown that the telephone number used to contact her does not belong to AMLO. Police Colonel Prayoonrat has said that he will be asking the woman’s bank why it did not pick up on the unusual transactions…. The investigation continues.
Now, is this a simple case of a gullible victim duped by a silly story? Or is it a cunning double-bluff with her fully aware of what is going on? Or a dizzying triple-bluff with the AMLO chief himself part of the scam? Whatever happens, it’s a lot more ambitious than phoning someone’s granny and pretending to be their grandchild in urgent need of money.
And talking of ambitious criminals, I have to ask once again (and I have written to the paper itself about this): why is the Spectator (in its 7 January 2012 issue, the Diary column) giving valuable paper and ink to the rabid ramblings of Conrad Black? That’s twice now: I may have to cancel my subscription in protest.