Police in Thailand have arrested a man in connection with a cryptocurrency scam that saw investors lose some THB500 million—equivalent to $16 million, the Bangkok Post reported.
Mana Jumuang was arrested in connection with his alleged involvement in the fraud, with law enforcement catching up with the 48-year-old on a football field in Bangkok’s Huai Khwang district, according to the commander of the Crime Suppression Division, Police Major General Jiraphop Phuridet.
A warrant for his arrest had been outstanding since late August, after he was accused of the cryptocurrency exchange fraud.
Local press have described Jumuang as the “cryptocurrency wizard,” a name he used for himself to encourage investors to part with their cash.
Allegedly part of a larger crypto crime gang spanning Thailand and Vietnam, Mana is thought to have been complicit in defrauding thousands of individual investors across 10 countries in Asia, according to Jiraphop.
Victims were persuaded to invest in digital currencies through the scheme as an intermediary, and were initially paid returns. It is alleged that the gang would then drop communication with investors, leaving those affected out of pocket.
In reality, Mana was using the money to fund his lifestyle, including buying luxury real estate with investment cash, according to media reports.
Police in Thailand are still hunting other members of the gang, with two Thai suspects currently outstanding. Several Vietnamese suspects are also under suspicion, but have fled the country.
The investigation spans across the continent, with victims from South Korea to Vietnam caught up in the scam, described as a sophisticated criminal enterprise. The case serves as a reminder for investors to be careful with cryptocurrency investments, and to be mindful of high levels of fraud and misrepresentation in the space.