Malaysian couple in ATM fraud arrest

SONGKHLA - Two Malaysian nationals believed to be members of a fake ATM card gang being hunted by Thai and Malaysian authorities were arrested at the Thai border on Saturday.

Chiang Kok Soeng, 45, and his wife Tan Lee Ching, 38, were apprehended at the Paramout Hotel in Dannok on the Thai border with Malaysia in Sadao district, Songkhla province.

Police found one blank ATM card and eight ATM and credit cards from Thai and Malaysian banks, as well as Thai and Malaysian banknotes worth 500,000 baht.

Pol Capt Seksan Ongart, deputy chief of the Songkhla immigration bureau, said the couple checked in at the hotel on Friday. They are known to have crossed the border to Thailand several times and used counterfeit cards to withdraw money in several locations in the southern province, the official said. Their last fraudulent transaction was carried out at a Bangkok Bank ATM by the Tinsulanonda Bridge intersection on Dec 20.

Thai banks alerted the authorities to the couple and pictures of the pair withdrawing money from several ATM machines in Songkhla were circulated to police.

After their arrest, Mr Chaing and Mrs Tan told immigration police that they had obtained the blank ATM card from Lim Yew Pin, 27, and Chong Ngai Song, 37, Malaysian nationals who were arrested in their home country on Dec 29.

The blank card held the bank details of victims whose bank accounts had been hacked and could be used to withdraw cash in Thailand, they added.

Pol Capt Seksan said he suspected the fake card had been used in several machines in Songkhla. The police are contacting all banks in the province to check security cameras for footage of the couple.

The pair are suspected of being members of a Malaysian ATM skimming gang, four out of 10 members of which have already been arrested, he added.

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