A 62-year-old Guyanese man has been arrested in Thailand for reportedly attempting to defraud a woman out of nine million of the country’s currency in what authorities there have described as an old “black money” scam.
The Phuket News yesterday reported that the police are investigating a network still using the old scam after Abdul Kalam Azad Sattaur, from Guyana, was arrested in the Thai city of Phuket. He is now under investigation for fraud reportedly amounting to Thai Baht (THB) 9 million.
The newspaper said that the arrest was announced by the country’s Immigration Bureau Chief, Major General Surachate Hakparn, who presented details of the arrest to the press in Bangkok last week Friday (March 22nd) on his Facebook page.
Sattaur, who according to the news report has been in custody since March 14th, remains in Phuket.
He was arrested on the same day that the owner of a local language school in Phuket – who police have not named – filed a complaint to police in which she claimed that she had been cheated out of the money which she transferred to various bank accounts.
Sattaur was tracked down and found at Eakkamon Mansion, in Phuket Town. He is accused of using a fake Facebook and LINE account to pretend to be an American man who had worked in Syria.
He allegedly claimed to send the woman a security box containing the “black-washed banknotes” with a special liquid to wash them clean.
The total value of the “banknotes” was reported as US$650,000, equivalent to about THB20 million, which the Phuket language school owner would acquire for the bargain price of THB9 million.
However, the woman said that Sattaur would not send the security box containing the “banknotes” until he received payment first.
She obliged and made payments amounting to THB9 million to 10 offshore accounts.
However, the security box never arrived.
The report said that Sattaur now stands accused of fraud and is being held in the detention cells at Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town, where he will remain while the investigation against him continues.
He is said to be charged along with another person and police said that they have the “black money” seized as evidence.
According to the newspaper, the “black money” scam has been in use for more than two decades. It involves convincing people to pay money for banknotes that the con artists insist have been removed from circulation and have been washed with black ink to make them unusable, but which could be washed clean and used again with the right chemicals. The con artists have people make initial payments to make the banknotes available, but withhold the chemicals until the big – final – payment is made. Usually, the “banknotes” are just regular paper literally washed in black ink.
The newspaper further said it learnt of Sattaur after his son contacted it out of concern for his father’s welfare as he had not been in contact with his family for several days.
The son wrote to the paper indicating his belief that Sattaur was missing as he was said to be always online and in touch with his wife every day. However, the son said the woman had not heard back from him since the last time he was in touch with her.
Copies of Sattaur’s boarding pass and tourist visa, which were provided to the newspaper, confirmed that he arrived in Phuket on a flight from Kuala Lumpur on March 13th, the day before his arrest.
The Phuket News said it had yet to receive a reply on how the family have received the news of Sattaur’s arrest.
In 2012, a man also identified as Abdul Kalam Azad Sattaur was charged with producing a counterfeit US$100 banknote after spending more than one year in an Abu Dhabi jail. At that time he was described as a Guyanese businessman said to be residing in Brazil. Sattaur was arrested in Dubai in August, 2011, during a police raid on another businessman’s hotel room in which officers recovered thousands of fake notes. He denied the charge. The trader, according to the www.thenational.ae news website, said he had arrived in Dubai from Bangkok and had intended to stay for only one night before continuing on to Brazil, where he lived with his wife and children. He had told a diplomatic representative in Kuwait – Guyana has no diplomats in the UAE – that he visited the other businessman’s hotel room to arrange a diamond transaction and was caught in the raid.