Fraud has been a global issue for thousands of years and remains one of the most common and frequently encountered offenses in various businesses and entities in Thailand. Not even the closest of friendships are immune to such problems. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand has seen an alarming increase in fraud cases, particularly involving glove scams and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). These incidents are akin to breaches of agreement or embezzlement offenses.
In this article, we will delve into Thai Criminal Law as it pertains to fraud, aiming to provide you with relevant information that will prepare you for your current or future ventures in Thailand.
The offense of Cheating and Fraud in Thailand is delineated under Section 341 of the Thai Criminal Code:
“Any individual who dishonestly misleads another by asserting false statements or concealing facts that ought to be disclosed, and, through such deceit, acquires property from the defrauded person or a third party, or induces the defrauded person or a third party to create, revoke, or destroy a legal document, is guilty of committing the offense of cheating and fraud. The punishment for this offense shall not exceed three years of imprisonment or a fine of no more than six thousand Baht, or both.”
In practice, even when arising from a commercial agreement, actions may constitute fraud if the perpetrator intentionally deceives another party from the outset. For example, if Mr. A agrees to jointly invest in a business with Mr. B by having Mr. B transfer funds to his private account, with no actual intention of returning the investment and profits to Mr. B, Mr. A's actions are considered fraudulent. This is because he provided Mr. B with false assurances solely to dishonestly acquire funds from Mr. B.
Additionally, if fraudulent acts outlined under Section 341 are perpetrated against the public, they may fall under the purview of Section 343 of the Thai Criminal Code:
“If the offense under Section 341 is committed by the assertion of a falsehood to the public or by the concealment of the facts which should be revealed to the public, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding five years or fined not exceeding ten thousand Baht, or both.”
Consequently, fraud committed against the public is classified as a public offense, highlighting its broader impact on society beyond individual victims. This designation underlines the seriousness with which the legal system views acts of deception affecting the general population.
Take, for instance, a manufacturing company that begins selling products to clients without the intention of delivering those products or delivering the correct type of product as promised. This constitutes Cheating and Fraud. Further complicating matters, if the company falsely claims to have submitted the necessary documentation for the product to a government agency—such as a Product License or Production License—by providing false documents or information to the agency responsible for issuing such licenses, and these documents are intended for public disclosure or access, this action escalates to Public Fraud under Section 343 of the Thai Criminal Code. Moreover, it is important to note that even if the victim wishes to withdraw the complaint, the public prosecutor is obligated to continue with the legal proceedings.
The statute of limitations for fraud cases in Thailand varies depending on the specifics of each case, including whether the fraud is considered a public or private offense and whether it is categorized as criminal or civil. The most crucial factor regarding the statute of limitations is the nature of the case. Prompt legal action is always recommended. If you suspect you've been a victim of fraud, or if you're facing accusations of committing fraud in Thailand, it's imperative to seek legal counsel without delay.
As a general guideline, victims of fraud have a three-month period to initiate legal proceedings from the moment they become aware of the fraud and identify the perpetrator.
The Securities and Exchange Act in Thailand provides the legal framework for pursuing civil actions in cases of fraud. Remedies include:
An offender of fraud may be subject to any or all of the following sanctions or penalties:
In criminal fraud cases, provisional release (also known as bail) is usually granted by the criminal court, but the following is taken into account:
The following reasons might constitute the refusal of a bail application:
For individuals accused of committing fraud, there are several protective measures available:
When addressing fraud targeting tourists, the predominant form encountered involves scams, particularly those related to real estate or other scenarios in which individuals are misled into believing they are paying for goods or services related to their holiday experience in Thailand. Unfortunately, they later discover that the other party had no intention of fulfilling their end of the bargain, deceitfully taking money without delivering the promised product or service.
While international insurance fraud may also pose a risk, it is less prevalent and would typically be governed by the commercial code of the country where the implicated organization is headquartered.
We handle numerous fraud cases annually, and with thorough and accurate documentation, we can achieve favorable outcomes for the victims and secure fair judgments from the court. Our standard procedure involves reporting the fraud case to the inquiry office at the relevant police station to collect essential documents and identify reliable witnesses. Specifically, for private fraud cases (Section 341), if the injured party opts to independently file the complaint to the court, the law mandates that the person defrauded must do so within three months after becoming aware of the fraud and the identity of the offender, unless the complaint has already been filed within three months prior to initiating court proceedings. It's important to note that for public fraud cases (Section 343), this time constraint does not apply.
Our expertise in fraud offenses provides us with unique insights into each case we manage. With the necessary information, we can assure a positive outcome for your case. If you are currently unsure or suspect you might be subjected to fraud, we also offer Due Diligence services for business entities in Thailand and advice on private transactions between individuals.