Farmer Who Bought Smiling Buffalo Charged With Fraud, Money Laundering

Tongkum and Surat Phaeoket. Photo: Smiling Buffalo, A Little Thing Called Happiness. “Surat Phaeoket & Tongkum / Facebook
Tongkum and Surat Phaeoket. Photo: Smiling Buffalo, A Little Thing Called Happiness. “Surat Phaeoket & Tongkum / Facebook

BANGKOK — A farmer who crowdfunded the purchase of a buffalo he had bonded with was charged Tuesday afternoon with fraud, money laundering and violating the Computer Crime Act.

After surrendering the buffalo to the police this morning, Surat Phaeoket was charged with serious crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a 200,000 baht fine, one day after the official he bought the animal from accused him of defrauding donors with misleading statements.

Read: Smiling Buffalo Seized by Police, Impounded as Evidence

Surat will be brought in for questioning, Col. Singh Singhdet of Khan Na Yao police said Tuesday.

Photos of man and buffalo became an online sensation earlier this month, and netizens chipped in the money needed for him to buy the animal outright. Surat last week purchased Tongkum from Boonlert Kanpakdee, a subdistrict mayor who set a price of 100,000 baht for the 4-year-old bull.

After the deal was done, Boonlert complained to the police he was embarrassed by what happened and alleged the funds had been illegally obtained. He said Surat made misleading statements about the animal’s predicament; Surat denies doing so.

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