The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) say hotel operators and individuals colluded to defraud 1.7 billion baht from the “Rao Tiew Duay Kan” tourism stimulus package by using social media to make fraudulent claims.
CSD’s preliminary investigation into the case showed that hotels, especially those operating in popular areas such as Chaiyaphum and Phuket, exploited the “Rao Tiew Duay Kan”, or We Travel Together scheme.
Reports say some hotels made false financial claims.
The CSD is investigating cases of fraud at 55 hotels in Chaiyaphum and Phuket, according to a source. Fifty suspects working at hotels were arrested and the CSD is preparing to level charges against individuals who worked together to make false claims.
The source said one case in Chaiyaphum province involves about 9,000 accomplices who used social media.
Officials are wrapping up another fraud case at a resort in the province, with about 10,000 accomplices, the source said.
“The suspects shared information that instructs people on how to register, and a special group was created to share information and hotel names,” the source said.
Those interested in joining the scheme to defraud the system were invited to secret online groups where they could sell their rights to state help under the scheme.
Online agents bought stimulus rights for 500 baht each before selling them to hotel operators for up to 1,000 baht so the outlets could be granted a government subsidy.
Under the We Travel Together initiative, the government initially subsidised 5 million rooms at 40% of the accommodation rate, capped at 3,000 baht per night for up to 5 nights.
The government later increased the duration to 10 nights, and it is expected to expand this to 15 nights when the extension phase is rolled out.
About 3.5 million people registered in the scheme when it was launched in July.
On Thursday, three people accused of defrauding a tourism stimulus scheme turned themselves in to face charges at the CSD, a police source said yesterday.
They were accused of fraud in connection with the Rao Tiew Duay Kan. The Criminal Court approved warrants for their arrest on 25th January.