Posted on: March 14, 2023, 07:08h.
Last updated on: March 14, 2023, 07:08h.
A police officer in Thailand was traveling from village to village selling cows. Except, he wasn’t a police officer and he wasn’t selling cows. After convincing people to buy the beefy bovines, he used the money to gamble in Cambodia, never delivering the goods to the buyers.
The scam seemed to be highly successful, as the 58-year-old fraudster, Wuttisak Phittakchan-im, was able to pull it off repeatedly across the central region of the country. His downfall came after choosing the wrong village to target.
Appearing in full Thai police clothing, complete with medals and lieutenant insignia, Wuttisak used a trustworthy face and the power of law enforcement to perpetuate his scam. When he decided to target a village in the subdistrict of Chang Lek, though, his ruse came to an end.
Grazing In The Villages
Thai media outlet The Thaiger reported that Wuttisak found his way to the village of Chang Lek, where he talked to village chief Pairat Unha about his cow business. However, Pairat didn’t bite, feeling there was something off about the man dressed as a lieutenant.
Pairat wasn’t swayed by the man’s sales pitch or the pictures he presented of the animals. They weren’t cheap, as the man was offering them at THB250,000 (US$7,255) each, with 20 heads available. Cows normally sell for around one-tenth that amount in the country, according to local dealers.
The village chief has his own cows and is heavily involved in the industry. When Wuttisak showed him the pictures, Pairat instantly recognized them as images that were posted in an online chat group. So, he called the local police station to investigate.
Plainclothes officers showed up to talk to the alleged stockman and asked him to show his police ID card. Instead of presenting it, Wuttisak made a run for freedom, but didn’t get far. The officers grabbed him and placed him under arrest.
His Own Paddock
The officers then searched his vehicle, uncovering more evidence of his trade. There, they found a mix of police equipment and clothing, as well as fake name tags and fake license plates for his vehicle.
They also began to look for other potential victims across Thailand, uncovering at least one. They found a man who confirmed he fell for the trap in a different province two hours away. He had given Wuttisak THB330,000 (US$9,566) to purchase some cows, trusting the man in uniform.
Wuttisak has already admitted to running his scam across Thailand and using the money to gamble in Poipet, Cambodia. Each time he flushed it all away, he would return to Thailand and find a new area to target.
The scammer now sits behind bars while the authorities figure out what to do with him. They need to find as many victims as possible in order to build a strong case and determine the punishment. Local law firm Siam Legal says the fine for fraud is up to THB60,000 (US$1,740) or up to three years in prison or both. Impersonating a police officer carries a sentence of several months for each provable violation.