Two Thai males and a female from Lopburi were caught today, November 11, after allegedly impersonating a group of monks and soliciting donations in the Phuket area.
The arrest took place following complaints of locals in Phuket since August 29, accusing that the alleged fraud team named “Sa-Thu” had one of the male members dressed as a Buddhist monk called “Phra Boonlong Muenlarp” before driving around the Phuket city with a big Buddha statue and begging for donations.
The group told their alleged victims that all donation money would be wisely spent for building a 2-million-baht Buddhist pavilion at a temple in Lopburi province. Those who donated would be blessed by holy and lucky spirits, according to them.
The police authorities then began an investigation of whether they were a group of real monks coming from the Lopburi temple, whose abbot revealed to the officials that there was no monk under their name and the temple was not planning on building any pavilion.
The trio – including Patcharee Inwaree, 57, Jamnong Meeubol, 64, and Kriengkrai Kamsaen, 56 – were eventually captured this morning. They were marked aa suspicious as none of them owned a Buddhist graduation certificate and were able to perform prayers or even recite basic scripture.
All of them were detained at Phuket police station for legal proceedings and were initially charged with defrauding the public and using fake documents for public deception.
Further investigation also exposed that the group had previously impersonated members of the same temple under the same Buddhist name in Phuket.
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