Thai authorities are expecting national crypto-crime rates to increase dramatically in the coming months, local news outlet Bangkok Post reports.
It’s a crime wave that the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) fears the country is not technologically prepared for. Thailand is reported to be desperately searching for personnel equipped with knowledge in modern technology to deal with cyber-crime.
Thailand’s Crypto-Crime Concerns
TIJ Executive Director and former Secretary of Justice Kittipong Kittayarak reports that findings from a collaborative study carried out by the TIJ and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute show that “nefarious activities involving transnational organised crime are rising in Thailand.”
The crimes in question include ID cards and travel document forgery, money laundering, drug smuggling, human trafficking, call center scams, and credit card information theft. The study also draws attention to challenges being faced by Thai agencies involved with the justice system.
“This includes human resource constraints, a lack of effective inter-agency communication due to officials’ lack of proficiency in foreign languages, and bureaucratic red tape,” said Kittipong.
According to Kittipong, Thailand is in serious need of developing technologies and innovative tools to combat transnational crime, particularly cyber-crime involving cryptocurrencies.
The TIJ and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently hosted a seminar titled ‘Advancing the Economy and Combating Crime in the Digital Age: Cryptocurrency and Crime’. The event drew attention to the growing number of criminal gangs using cryptocurrencies to launder money and provide terrorist financing.
It’s a global issue that is leading governing authorities in Russia and Japan to design software costing hundreds of thousands of dollars capable of tracking cryptocurrency transactions. Kittipong reports that cryptocurrencies are also being used to buy child pornography, illicit drugs, malware and firearms on the dark web.
Despite recent reports from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) showing that the percentage of cryptocurrency transactions executed for the purposes of criminal activity has dropped from 90% to 10%, research clearly shows that the overall amount of criminal activity involving cryptocurrency is rapidly increasing.
Kittipong said that there are currently not many criminal cases involving cryptocurrencies, but he expects the numbers to rise quickly in the near future.
To combat the growing threat of cyber-crime, the Thai government has set up a National Cyber Security Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. However, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Prajin Juntong, the committee still lacks the necessary knowledge and experience to effectively combat the incoming wave of criminal activity.
The UNODC’s deputy regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Julien Garsany, reports that more than 6 billion cyber-crime cases occur in the region every year. It is estimated that criminal gangs have generated 100 billion baht in profits from illegal transactions, while causing about 150 billion baht of damage to the regional economy each year.
Thailand’s biggest Bitcoin scam to date made national headlines last month after a Thai actor named Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit, along with his brother Prinya Jiratpisit and 5 other suspects, were arrested by local police on accusations of fraud. The brothers were said to have swindled a Finnish investor out of $24 million in Bitcoin. The Finnish victim recently reported satisfaction over settlement talks with two of the key suspects.
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