‘Sushi scammer’ arrested after flying back to Bangkok

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A fraudster who allegedly stole at least 100 million baht from thousands of victims in fake e-voucher coupons, was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Wednesday, according to Thai police. 

“He was unable to withstand the pressure from the authorities, so he decided to travel back to Thailand,” said Police Lieutenant General Jirabhop Bhuridej, the commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) commissioner.

Metha Chalingsuk, 42, the owner of the Daruma Sushi franchise, was charged with fraud and violating the Computer Crime Act.

Jirabhop told reporters at the airport that the Thai police were working with the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) before the arrest was made.

Before Metha flew to New York on June 16, Daruma Sushi had offered e-vouchers for a salmon buffet at a discounted price of 199 baht, down from 499 baht.

Many people were quick to take up the offer, some buying more than a thousand vouchers to resell them for profit. However, all of the franchise’s 26 branches were closed last Friday, one day after the owner left the country.

Jirabhop said more than 150,000 vouchers were sold, amounting to 30 million baht.

He said Metha owned six branches while 20 other franchise owners, who bought the franchise at a price of two to 2.5 million baht per store, were left without products to sell and their employees have been let go.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said on Tuesday that at least 71 registered employees with valid social insurance will receive unemployment benefits from the government.

However, there are still 324 unregistered employees who have to file evidence of employment to gain unemployment benefits. If they are unable to provide evidence, the Social Security Office will enforce the law to make the employers pay the compensation.

The police are scheduled to host another press conference on the arrest on Wednesday afternoon. 

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