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Thailand’s cybercrime problem persists despite efforts | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Thailand’s digital economy and society (DES) minister, Prasert Jantararuangthong, revealed that despite efforts to curb cybercrime, the problem remains rampant with damages averaging 100 million baht daily.

The Anti-Online Scam Operation Centre (AOC), set up to address this issue, is yet to see a decline in the number of cases. The ongoing scams are attributed to the scammers’ increasingly sophisticated strategies and the lack of seamless integration among all relevant agencies working to reduce online crime.

A telecom industry source disclosed that a crucial issue is the full-circuit connection, where Thai telecom operators install underground cables near border areas and expand into neighbouring countries through cooperative agreements with local companies.

This infrastructure is intended to lower telecom costs for clients but is being exploited by scammers to make calls to phone numbers in Thailand.

In response, state authorities have implemented measures such as suppressing mule accounts and mule SIM cards. They have also introduced the removal of illegal telecom towers, internet cable and telephone lines along border areas.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) requested people with more than 100 SIM cards to re-register them and verify their identities by February 14 this year, leading to the deactivation of over 800,000 mule SIM cards.

Google Thailand

Further efforts include Google Thailand partnering with the DES Ministry to launch initiatives to keep Thais safe online. An enhanced Google Play Protect feature safeguards Android mobile phone users against scams and financial fraud, blocking the installation of potentially risky sideloaded apps.

Prasert held a meeting on April 9 with related authorities to deal with call centre gangs, aiming to suppress all forms of online crime. The state agencies also asked the Office of the Consumer Protection Board to revise rules related to cash on delivery to prevent scams from the sale of online products. Progress on this revision is expected by May.

According to the Royal Thai Police, there were 461,044 cybercrime cases from March 1, 2022, to March 15 this year, resulting in damage of 63.6 billion baht. The scam with the highest amount of damages was tricking people into making an online investment, with 37,829 cases and damage of 20.7 billion baht.

In the 2023 Asia Fraud Annual Report by Whoscall, an app that identifies unknown callers and prevents smartphone scams, scam attempts in Thailand increased by 12.2 million from 2022. The report found Thailand is the biggest target for SMS scams in Asia, receiving 58 million suspicious messages throughout the year.

The report warned about scammers’ tactics, including impersonating delivery services to defraud the public, reported Bangkok Post.

It also revealed that 4.5% of messages contained suspicious links, with the three most common messages featuring fake log-in requests (27%), prompts to download malicious software (20%) and links to fake one-page shopping sites (8%).

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