A 22-year-old cryptocurrency millionaire has lost more than 5,500 bitcoins in an alleged investment scam in Thailand – one that drew public attention due to the involvement of a local actor.
According to a media report from Bangkok Post on Monday, a group approached and solicited Finnish businessman Aarni Otava Saarimaa in June 2017 over investment in several Thai stocks, a casino in Macau and a new cryptocurrency called Dragon Coin.
The group claimed that upon issuance, Dragon Coin could be used at the casino, the report said. They also brought Saarimaa to the Macau casino in order to demonstrate the legitimacy of the project. Saarimaa, who bought into the scheme, transferred a total of 5,564 bitcoins to the group, the report indicted.
Having seen no returns months after the investment, Saarimaa filed a complaint to Thailand's Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in January, together with his local business partner who believed the investment plan was a scam.
The CSD subsequently launched an investigation and alleged in the report that the group did not make any investments for Saarimaa, but instead liquidated all the bitcoins into Thai baht and deposited the funds into seven bank accounts.
Although it is unclear when the group sold the bitcoin assets, the CSD said the fraudsters made off with nearly 800 million baht, or around $24 million.
Following a months-long investigation, the CSD also suspected that the Thai film actor Jiratpisit "Boom" Jaravijit was involved in the plan and arrested him last Wednesday.
The CSD further alleged that the actor's sibling Prinya Jaravijit is suspected to be the "ringleader" of the scheme and has left Thailand for the U.S. via South Korea. The CSD is now collaborating with authorities in the U.S. to track down the primary suspect, the report stated.
Thai baht image via Shutterstock