Pasit Ariyalapit, aka ‘Shogun’, Denies Intentional Tour Scam
Police have asked the Anti-Money Laundering Office to confiscate assets of Pasit Ariyalapit, who is at the heart of a much-publicised, alleged tour scam that left 1000's stranded at Suvarnabhumi Airport on April 12.
Initial contact with Pasit’s banks found that she has a total of 3 million baht in her accounts, said Pol Lt-General Thitirat Nongharnpitak, crime suppression chief, yesterday.
Pasit, also known as “Shogun”, was arrested in Ranong province and charged with fraud earlier this week. She has, to date, maintained her innocence, saying she operated an online business, not a tour company.
In a recent press briefing, she insisted she had changed her name and surname 10 times because she believed it would bring her luck, not to avoid being prosecuted.
She said that the incident at Suvarnabhumi Airport was not her fault, but that the situation got out of control. She further claimed that she believed her investor in Hong Kong had already booked the flight and had seat numbers for everyone but she learned recently that the chartered flight had to be booked three or four months in advance.
The problem occurred on April 12 because her customers invited too many people, making it difficult to check and control the numbers, she said.
During the press briefing, a group of people who said they were victims of the tour scam angrily asked Pasit when they would be refunded. In response, Pasit said they would be looking into compensation but disappointed customers would have to show evidence of their payment.
Meanwhile, Nitisak Meekuat, Pasit’s lawyer said, without elaboration, that that he was quite worried about the case. He is now for waiting permission to talk to her.
At the press conference Pasit tried to explain that under a promotion in February, customers who bought a lot of her products were awarded an overseas trip. The most popular was a free trip for 40 people to Osaka. They each paid only 500 baht as an application fee. The February trip was so successful that her customers told their friends, which led to another trip of 200 people to Osaka.
Hundreds of people showed up the Suvarnabhumi Airport on April 12 to find that there were no flight bookings for them as promised by Pasit’s Wealth Ever firm.
Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanawarangkul and police stepped in to provide assistance to them. They claimed Pasit’s company had lured them into paying between 9,000 and 20,000 baht each for a trip to Japan. The price is relatively low compared to a normal ticket. They said they were told they would be travelling to Japan by chartered flight.
Noppadon Boonprakong, 34, of Sakhon Nakhon province, said he had no hopes of getting his money back from Pasit. He said his family had paid more than 300,000 baht to Pasit’s company and did not get any products in return. However, he said he believed in the justice system.
It is still unclear how much money is involved in the alleged tour scam, as police have not yet aggregated the complaints against her. People left stranded at the airport were believed to come from all over the country.
Thitirat told reporters that there was not enough evidence to charge Pasit with a lese majeste charge. He was referring to earlier reports, which claimed that Pasit had said palace figures would preside over her firm’s opening ceremony.
Thitirat said police would soon summon about 30 people they suspected of being involved in Pasit’s alleged scheme and police will object to any bail request for Pasit.
In A Separate Incident..
In relation to a separate incident, a provincial Court in Bangkok yesterday issued another arrest warrant for alleged fraud against Pasit.
The warrant states that Pasit had promised a parent of a nine-year-old boy that she would provide modelling work for the boy in Japan in April, last year. She allegedly asked for a deposit of 220,000 baht to manage the deal, but when they went to Japan she did not keep her promise.
The parents claimed that Pasit had promised a full refund. However, the parents were unable to contact Pasit after returning from Japan.
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