Finnish businessman Aarni Otava Saarimaa had amassed millions of dollars in cryptocurrency by the time he was 22. Yet even someone savvy enough to play the markets all the way to a fortune was still vulnerable to a sophisticated scam which defrauded him of $35 million in Bitcoin.
According to an article in the Bangkok Post, the use of digital assets has made the crime particularly complicated. It took six months to bring about any arrests and is described as, “one of the most challenging cases the CSD (Crime Suppression Division) has investigated.”
In January of this year Mr. Saarimaa’s business partner Chonnikan Kaeosali informed the CSD that he and Mr. Saarimaa had been tricked into giving money to three companies claiming to be investing in a Macau casino and the Dragon Coin cryptocurrency.
The facts of the case are relatively straightforward, but tracing funds proved difficult due to the use of Bitcoin. The chief investigator on the case, Chakrit Sawasdee, said that his team had to “carefully examine documents and trace the money trail.” The police collaborated with the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) and “it took us almost seven months to get approval for the arrest warrants for the first group.”
The criminal gang behind the scam were paid in Bitcoin, which was then sold and the proceeds shared between a host of bank accounts. As a result of the investigation 51 bank accounts have been frozen, along with 14 plots of land suspected to have been used to launder the stolen funds.
In a twist which has captured the attention of the Thai public, soap opera actor Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit has been arrested due to his alleged involvement in the conspiracy. His siblings Prinya Jaravijit and Suphitcha Jaravijit are also wanted by the police.
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