In a remarkable turn of events, the Anti Online Scam Operation Centre (AOC) under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) of Thailand has put a halt to 2,004 bank accounts linked to online scams. A significant achievement considering the accounts were frozen within an astonishingly swift 15 minutes of receiving complaints from suspected scam victims, said DES Minister Prasert Jantararuangthong, a feat far outstripping the 60-minute goal initially set by the center.
The AOC, nestled in the heart of the National Telecom headquarters on the busy Chaeng Watthana Road, serves as the first point of call for individuals beleaguered by the increasingly rampant online scams. Recently, the center upgraded its hotline, 1441, from a humble 20 lines to an impressive capacity of 100 telephone lines.
In just one week, approximately 32,000 people who were fraud examples from online scams contacted the center to freeze funds transferred to the scammers’ accounts. This approximates to a significant number of wronged citizens saved from the clutches of cunning cyber fraudsters, according to Minister Jantararuangthong.
The battling of online scams is expected to intensify with the upcoming November 18 deadline for online business operators to register their businesses. As per the Digital Platform Royal Decree, all business owners with an annual income surpassing 1.8 million baht through online platforms such as e-commerce are obliged to register. Their counterparts, legal entities with an online business platform yielding over 50 million baht income per annum, fall under the same requirement. Non-compliance could result in both civil and criminal penalties, according to statements from the DES Minister.
Renowned figures like Itthaboon Onwongsa, the deputy secretary-general of the Thailand Consumers Council have credited the AOC, the Bank of Thailand, and all participating financial institutions for improving Thailand’s combativeness against cybercrime. Nonetheless, Mr. Itthaboon pointed out that speeding up the process of freezing suspected transactions to within 3 minutes could protect even more potential victims. As it stands, crafty scammers need only a few minutes to navigate stolen money to offshore accounts through multiple local ones.
The AOC’s swift and efficient action pays homage to a future where online scams may be a distant memory. However, it’s evident that the war against cybercrime is an ongoing one, requiring constant vigilance and innovation.