Thai wives of expats on Koh Samui lose millions of baht in Ponzi scam

Published:  26 Jul at 6 PM
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The Thai wives of expats living on the Thailand holiday isle of Koh Samui were amongst the 200-plus victims of a Ponzi scheme started by a female gift shop owner.

Totals of baht lost to the pyramid scam are reported to be over 120 million baht (approx. $3,500,000). The scheme is believed to have been started by the owner of a gift shop, a woman known only as Bew, with hundreds of local people putting in sums ranging from 10,000 baht to 500,000 baht. A few received just 30 per cent of the amount they’d put in before Bew disappeared with the remainder. A wide range of the island’s women including state employees and staff from local hotels and department stores had given cash to the fraudster, as had a number of Thai wives and partners of foreigners from the local expat community.

Last weekend, one of those affected contacted local police as the spokesperson for 20 other victims and reported the losses, requesting an investigation into the scam. As of now, police are interviewing between 20 and 30 people, with no results as yet. Scams of this type seem to be reasonably common in Thailand as well as across Asia, with the culprit rarely if ever caught, arrested and prosecuted. It’s not just the Thai community which gets taken in by get-rich-quick offers, with the worst–known in Thailand to date involving British so-called investment advisors and the now notorious 2013 LMIM investment scandal.

The majority of Western expat investors caught in the scam lost sums of up to £350,000 and more after the so-called ‘Australian licensed investment management company’ crashed, having been persuaded by IFAs on massive commission rates to invest right up to two weeks before the collapse. In addition to those in Thailand, thousands of victims of this massive fraud were found in Australia, New Zealand and in expat communities across Asia, including Hong Kong. To date, none have received any compensation for their losses. The LMIM Ponzi scheme remains as one of the world’s most cleverly and elaborately disguised Ponzi schemes and the scam and its victims, many of whom are now approaching or already in retirement, seem to have been mostly forgotten.
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