Women are urged to be more cautious while using online dating applications and websites, after police arrested two men who coerced and blackmailed dozens of victims to have sex.
Ratchaphol Jinda, 26, and Denphum Wattanachotpinyo, 39, have been charged with the sexual assault and blackmail of over 60 women.
Younger females, especially those who are looking for a romantic relationship or modelling gigs, are particularly vulnerable to predators in cyberspace.
Last week, police arrested two men who have sexually abused over 60 women and blackmailed them into submission. The first was Ratchaphol Jinda, 26, who was arrested on 19th May for rape and extortion of more than 30 young women in Bangkok.
According to police, Ratchaphol worked as a salesman of electrical appliances in Samut Prakan. He was arrested for assaulting and blackmailing college students, all of whom were under the age of 25.
One of the victims told police that the suspect recorded the abuse to blackmail her for money and sex over several months.
Ratchaphol approached the victims on dating apps and Line chat groups, where he would say he was looking for hostesses or “pretties”, said superintendent of the Crime Suppression Division Pol Col Veerachan Khunchaikaew.
The suspect did not have any intention to hire them, he said, adding he only flirted with the women before offering them monthly payments of 20,000-30,000 baht.
Once Ratchapol gained the victim’s trust, he would lure them to his house and rape them, often recording the assault with the intention of using the clips to blackmail the victims later for money or sexual favours whenever he wanted.
“He would threaten to release the clips if the women refuse to do as he told them,” Pol Col Khunchaikaew said, adding police seized Ratchaphol’s notebook computer and found 36 clips of his victims and 86 upskirt videos.
The second suspect was identified as Denphum Wattanachotpinyo, 39, from Nonthaburi, who was arrested on 11th May in Bangkok’s Sai Mai district.
Unlike Ratchaphol, Denphum usually posed as a gay modelling agent to deceive pretties, telling them they would be paid to entertain his clients.
When the victims showed up, he would force them to take drugs and rape them at knifepoint.
On several occasions, he also stole valuables from them, police said.
Denphum was wanted on three arrest warrants in connection to multiple charges, including rape, threatening to cause a person harm, depriving others of their freedom, threatening and intimidating others and theft.
Police said Denphum, who was released from prison on 6th April after spending 45 days in jail over drug offences, also recorded the abuses. He used them to force his victims to procure other pretties for him, they said.
Over 10 women have filed complaints against Denphum, but the police believe there may be dozens more who have not stepped forward.
Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), said Denphum used to work at entertainment venues, which allowed him to exploit women’s weaknesses and deceive them.
“A crime often features ‘signatures’ which are unique to its perpetrator. In Denphum’s case, his signature was the use of excessive violence,” he said.
“Ratchaphol, meanwhile, wanted his victims to praise him.”
The deputy CIB chief said he has instructed CIB criminal profilers to study the two cases in detail to help them prevent similar crimes in the future.
According to Pol Maj Gen Bhuridej, serial rapists usually experienced physical violence in childhood and often had substance abuse problems when they were younger.
“Some show signs of neurological disorders, while many exhibited anti-social behaviours,” he said, citing the police’s analysis of previous serial sex offenders.
In order to prevent convicted sex offenders from repeating their crime following their release from prison, Pol Maj Gen Bhuridej said the bureau will put in place more stringent measures to track sex offenders’ location and monitor their behaviour.
“Sexual offenders must be monitored in the future. They may be required to report to police officers regularly, or when they plan to relocate from an area,” Pol Maj Gen Bhuridej said.
“Police may need to keep a record of their fingerprints and DNA samples for easy tracing.”
In light of the recent arrests, CIB will be expediting investigations into sexual assault cases while expanding its online presence to allow victims to report a crime more easily, according to the deputy CIB commissioner.
Deputy police spokesperson Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen said dating apps are a double-edged sword, as they make dating easier but can also be used to deceive people, particularly young women.
“There have been several dating-app-related crimes which made headlines in Thailand. Most of the victims were young. If these crimes are allowed to continue unchecked, it might develop into more serious offences, such as human trafficking,” he said.