This scam has been referenced here https://dirtyscam.com/reviews/athavudhi-hirunburana/ – it looks to be another alias of the same group.
The scammer is finding start-up companies that are in the fundraising phase, in my case through Angel Investment Network, offering investment and in turn requirement legal work to be done in Thailand in order to have your business registered with the Thai authorities.
The alias used is of Santi Bhirombhakti, who is a well known businessman in Thailand – from a family that is know for investment and its social impact foundations. In that sense it is a reasonable cover story for the scammers.
The scam starts with introductory emails which are all fine and pleasant. Once you have sent over your business plan, ‘Santi’ will give you an investment offer, in my case and those that I have read about, this is a similar hydrid debt-equity finance deal with a 5-6 year tenor.
The quality of English and detail in the emails is very high, as is the understanding of finance. So the scammers are very effective in assuaging any doubts you might have. The person is happy to speak to you on the phone, but will not take a conference call.
If you accept the offer then ‘Santi’ will introduce you to his lawyer and also his business partner. In my case these where called Kai Rung and Pravee. The whole process is very slow, for me it was more than 3 months of correspondence, information exchange and ‘due diligence’.
This is one of the clever aspects of the scam, as this is how you might expect a genuine investor to behave. The financial deal offered is also not absolutely amazing – in fact in my case, we were close to turning it down! Again, that is something which made us believe in the offer.
Eventually, once they have hooked you, they will introduce you to a notary / compliance lawyer whom can do the necessary work to get an investment vehicle set up in Thailand. Various reasons are given for why this is necessary and no single incident raises a red flag on its own. The crux of the scam is that the money paid to the laywer is pocketed by the group.
It is a very long play for modest sums of money, but when they have formed the link between the compliance laywer and the company being scammed, it it very professionally done and it is tempting to ‘throw good money after bad’ believing that the set up is too complex to be a scam. They constantly bring up something else that requires more work and fees until you eventually catch on that you’ve been had.
The scammers, including the laywers, always call from Thai numbers and have all sorts of fake documentation, ranging from fake Santi Bhirombhakti passport, to investment contracts, business project registrations etc.
It’s actually very impressive and has taken me plenty of time to come to terms with how much effort people are willing to put in, to rip off others. Of course in hindsight there are clues that show this is not a genuine investment offer, but I expect many people will fall for this – so please heed this warning!!
Email [email protected] with any questions -this email address has been specifically set up to try to help others to avoid falling for this scam.