Thai authorities crackdown on scam texts, illegal gambling

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The Ministry of a Digital Economy and Society, the telecom regulator, and the police are now cracking down on illegal gambling and loan scam websites, plus their SMS invitations sent to general phone users. Involved parties are now asked to block these messages from being sent, or face punishment should the fail to do so.

Deputy Government Spokesperson Rachada Dhanadirek says the government is addressing complaints from the public on the spread of text messages sent to mobile phone users by unknown senders, with links to gambling, scam, or pornographic websites.

Many mobile phone users in Thailand have recently received the text messages without having signed up or subscribed to any of these services, causing much annoyance and concern over data privacy.

Ms Rachada said those who send out these messages are considered punishable by law, as their action is considered an economic crime.

She said these operations are considered especially damaging to low-income people, who are already affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 23 September, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has urged network providers to block the scam messages from being sent.

The commission has also outlined punishments for any licensed telecom operators found involved in sending out these messages, starting with a formal warning, and leading to fines, license suspension, or termination and legal charges.

The Ministry of a Digital Economy and Society has opened a center to receive complaints about illegal websites and texts, including online gambling. Members of the public can submit a link to such websites on the DESMonitor page on Facebook, or call the ministry’s 24-hour call center 1212.

Information gathered by the center will then be forwarded to the police for further investigation, which could lead to the termination of such websites.

The Royal Thai Police has warned that people involved in online gambling websites, from site managers, players, inviters, as well as those involved in websites offering illegal loans are considered violators of the law.

They are encouraging the general public to report any activities or people related to these websites by calling the Police Cyber Taskforce’s 1599 hotline.

The deputy government spokesperson said the government is concerned that the general public might fall victim to these scammers, leading to the loss of their money.

She said people seeking to take out loans should contact a legitimate financial institution, or first check the status of pico-finance and nano-finance loan providers on www.1359.go.th first.

Ms Rachada added that the Prime Minister has ordered related agencies to proactively suppress illegal websites, and cut down the cycles of gambling debt and informal debt.

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