BANGKOK — A woman wanted for allegedly running a ponzi scheme that scammed nearly 3,000 people out of 820 million baht is still on the run, police said Friday.
Wantanee “Mae Manee” Tippaveth, 28, and her boyfriend Metee Chinpa, 20, were charged with fraud and breaking the Computer Crime Act for the scheme,which promised investors a profit of 93 percent. A “gold shop” where she flaunts her seemingly endless wealth in online videos also turned out to be fake.
Department of Special Investigation director Paisit Wongmuang said Friday that the Mae Manee case has a total of 2,977 victims who have collectively lost 860,738,393 baht. Her assets are currently frozen.
“If she’s escaping, she should bring her whole house with her. This case has a statute of limitations of 20 years. If anyone is moving her money around or withdrawing money, it will show up as evidence for us,” DSI financial crime director Piyasiri Watanawarangkun said Wednesday.
Police said Mae Manee snared new victims by posting photos of her lavish lifestyle and social events with celebrities.
She even constructed a fake gold shop inside her office solely to convince people on social media that she owned a gold store and a large hoard of jewelry.
Mae Manee continued to be active on her Facebook, where she denied allegations of fraud.
“You thought would you bring me down and take everything? Do it, I can always find more money,” Mae Manee wrote on Thursday.
When a reporter visited Mae Manee’s house on Tuesday in Udon Thani, but no one answered the door. Neighbors said the house, which Mae Manee said cost about 30 million baht, was put up on sale soon after being built.
Extensive news coverage of Mae Manee’s alleged scams also prompted victims of another ponzi scheme to demand the same attention from the media and police.
A score of victims ensnared by the scam, called Forex 3D, stage a protest in front of the DSI headquarters on Friday and urged the department to take up the case.
“The Forex case has many times the victims and damages of the Mae Manee case,” lawyer Ronnarong Kaewpetch said with victims in front of the DSI Friday. “DSI needs to give this case special status quickly since it was filed way before Mae Manee, and is a very complicated case that involves crimes and banking overseas, which cannot be investigated with normal means.”
Ronnarong said there are up to 30,000 victims in the Forex scam, with damages as high as 40 billion baht.