21yr lottery-scam gang busted

Department of Special Investigation officers have arrested a man who admitted to running a lottery-fraud gang that netted up to 200,000 baht a month for 21 years.

Supachai Phutawang, 35, was charged with impersonating a government lottery official and forging government documents, DSI chief Pol Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit said. Mr Chatchawal was apprehended following the arrests of two of his three alleged partners: Sanit Srisuwong and Siriman Suksamarn. Another alleged partner, his father Promchai Phutawong, remains at large.

Pol Gen Chatchawal said Mr Chatchawai forged letters bearing the emblem of the Government Lottery Office and signature of the office's director. The letters stated that the lottery was, in fact, fixed and that, for a fee, people could obtain the winning numbers in advance.

The "membership fee" for the winning-number service required people to transfer 5,000-200,000 baht to a bank account operated by the gang. It was only when they didn't win that gamblers realised they'd been duped, Pol Gen Chatchawal said.

In some cases, however, dumb luck saw people win small prizes in the three-digit drawing. In such cases, police said, gang members returned to "members" to collect a percentage of the winnings.

Police said more than 10,000 people had cheated by the gang over the past two decades. Mr Chatchawal has more than 10 bank accounts set up to receive transferred money, investigators said.

Police said. Mr Chatchawal admitted of operating the lottery scam with his father for 21 years, starting when he was 14. He said each lottery drawing on the 1st and the 16th of every month would generate 30,000-100,000 in revenue for the family.

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