Cops warn about top 10 scams

The Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) yesterday warned people about the top ten techniques scammers use to fleece victims.

CCIB spokesman Pol Col Krissana Pattanacharoen said the bureau wanted to warn people after an upsurge in reported online scam victims.

He said since its online complaint submission centre opened on March 1 last year, about 37,900 people have filed complaints to the bureau, reporting about 4.59 billion baht in total damage.

Scam messages come through many platforms, including short message services (SMS), online ad displays on social media or personal calls promising their victims a high income from easy work online.

According to Pol Col Krissana, the top ten tricks include placing online orders where a scammer will send a link imitating popular e-commerce sites such as Shopee, Lazada or Amazon to victims who are requested to place and pay for orders which they never receive.

Another scam is to click “like” or “share” to earn money. Yet another is to earn money by watching clips on YouTube or TikTok. A fourth trick is to offer payment for reviews of goods or services, while a fifth is adverts seeking to hire someone to spend a night in a hotel.

Other tricks include advertising for packing products, making craftwork at home, boosting viewer numbers online, being fashion reviewers and short video editing for anyone who does not have experience.

All involve the victim parting with money. Often this is to be eligible for “special tasks”, which in turn involve further payments for doing something wrong or not completing the task. The scammers always ask for big amounts of money, and when they receive it, they disappear, Pol Col Krissana said.

He advised people not to apply for jobs through short messages or online ads that offer easy money in return and check for blacklisted phone and bank account numbers.

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Navy faces 15% kickback claim over B440m AV deal

Seller threatens to sue FB page, media

The Royal Thai Navy is investigating a claim about irregularities in the purchase of armoured vehicles (AVs) worth more than 440 million baht.

Navy spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin said yesterday that navy commander Adm Choengchai Chomchoengpaet had ordered a probe into a claim made by the CSI LA Facebook Page that some navy personnel demanded a 15% kickback from the supplier.

Adm Pokkrong said the navy has a project to procure seven 8×8 wheeled armoured personnel carriers worth 448 million baht, manufactured by Chaiseri Metal & Rubber Co.

The project will be financed by funds from the 2023 fiscal year starting from Oct 1 last year until Sept 30 this year. The manufacturer will have to deliver the armoured vehicles to the navy within 270 days.

Approval for the purchase is being sought from the Defence Ministry, Adm Pokkrong said, adding the project has been scrutinised by several agencies, such as the Anti-Corruption Cooperation Committee for state procurement, as well as a panel of observers.

“The navy has tried to ensure that budget spending is transparent and can be scrutinised. The claim about the 15% kickback is not true,” the navy spokesman said.

Nopparat Kulhiran, the founder of the company, dismissed the claim as baseless, saying it was intended to discredit the company and the navy.

The administrator of the page should disclose the source of the information to prove the veracity of the claim, Ms Nopparat said, adding the company operates its business based on the principle of good governance and transparency.

The company has manufactured and delivered products for use in government defence and security as well as providing maintenance services since 1968, she said, adding that most of its income comes from exports rather than domestic sales.

“The company had sold its products to the Thai military for about 50 years, and our company is also well-known worldwide,” she said.

Ms Nopparat threatened legal action against the CSI LA Facebook Page and any media outlets that shared false information.

“The media has been urged to examine the information first before sharing it. If there is any damage done, the company will reserve its rights to take legal action to protect its reputation,” Ms Nopparat said.

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Greece boat disaster: 350 Pakistanis were on board, minister says

Migrant boat which sank 14 Jun 23 - Hellenic Coast Guard photoHellenic Coast Guard

At least 350 Pakistanis were on board a packed trawler that capsized off southern Greece on 14 June, Pakistan’s interior minister says.

Rana Sanaullah told parliament his estimate was based on families who had sought government help and had taken DNA tests.

Egyptians and Syrians were also among the hundreds of migrants feared dead.

The official death toll remains at 82, while 104 survived, including 12 Pakistanis.

Giving his estimate, Mr Sanaullah said that for Pakistan “perhaps there has never been such a large toll in any incident before, even in terrorist incidents”.

The boat is thought to have set off from Egypt and picked up passengers in the Libyan city of Tobruk who paid thousands of dollars for the trip. The UN says between 400 and 750 people could have been crammed onto the vessel, which sank about 50 miles (80km) south-west of the coastal town of Pylos.

It is one of the worst migrant boat disasters in the Mediterranean in recent years, and questions remain about the Greek response after it became clear that the boat was in trouble.

Shipping data suggests the fishing vessel was not moving for at least seven hours before it capsized.

On Thursday Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) spoke of at least 209 Pakistani victims, based on DNA samples collected mainly from families in Punjab, and some from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

More than 20 suspected human traffickers have been arrested in Pakistan since the disaster.

Greece has charged nine Egyptian men with human trafficking over the shipwreck. They have denied wrongdoing.

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Worker killed in Tanjong Pagar structure collapse was walking along path outside worksite

PRECAUTIONS COMPANIES SHOULD TAKE In its alert, the WSH Council advised companies on the precautions they should take while carrying out demolition works. “Demolition works are high-risk construction activities. A demolition method statement must be prepared by a professional engineer,” it said. “The method statement must ensure that before andContinue Reading

Vendor ‘extortion’ police surrender

Two corporals face charges after video shows another variation of police sticker-bribe racket

A food vendor shows off a lion sticker that she said signifies that she paid a bribe to police. (Photo: Still image from PPTV)
A food vendor shows off a lion sticker that she said signifies that she paid a bribe to police. (Photo: Still image from PPTV)

Two police corporals suspected of collecting a bribe from a food vendor in Nonthaburi in exchange for a special sticker have reportedly surrendered after a video of them went viral on social media.

The two officers on Wednesday met with Pol Col Sompon Wongsrisunthorn, deputy chief of Nonthaburi Provincial Police, after CCTV caught them with two other men suspected of trying to collect a monthly bribe of 3,500 baht from a fried banana vendor in Bang Yai district.

They denied the accusation.

The vendor was quoted as telling reporters that she was told someone would come to collect money from her on Tuesday. In turn, she would receive a small lion sticker with the word “June” written on it and a signature next to it. With such a sticker displayed where it could be seen, she would not be bothered by the police.

Subsequently, four people who claimed to be police officers visited her shop in a pickup truck to collect the monthly payment. The four, however, refused to get out of the car and drove away after she refused to pay them.

The vendor then filed a report with the Bang Mae Nang police out of concern for her safety.

Pol Col Sompon confirmed that the two policemen were caught on CCTV along with two others, one of whom was identified as Tee, in the pickup truck.

Investigators have pressed charges against the two officers for breaching Section 148 of the Criminal Procedure Code for abuse of power which carries a prison term ranging from 5-20 years and/or a fine of up to 100,000 baht. They will also be changed under Section 157 for malfeasance by public officials, which carries a prison term of up to 10 years and/or a fine ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 baht.

Pol Col Sompon said the two officers were not posted at Bang Mae Nang station but are part of an investigation unit that works in various places as and when they are assigned.

He also insisted that the police would take serious action against the two officers if they are proven guilty, as per the instructions of deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, who has demanded that bribery cases be dealt with in a serious manner.

Police are also investigating the other two men.

In a related development, a netizen has posted a video of a conversation with two Vietnamese dried squid vendors about bribe-paid stickers for migrant workers in Nonthaburi.

One of the vendors said he needed to earn about 1,000 baht per day, as he needed to pay eight or nine agencies almost 6,000 baht in total each month. The other said they needed to pay six agencies about 4,000 baht a month.

Once they paid, they said they would be given stickers with various animals on them, such as chickens or ducks. The netizen also shared a picture of a foreign vendor who has stickers with tigers and black panther figures.

“Sticker bribery” has entered the local vocabulary in recent weeks, with more instances of police malfeasance continuing to emerge. Lottery ticket sellers are among those who now claim that special stickers affixed to their display boards will keep the police out of their way.

The sticker racket was first brought to light by Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, a Move Forward party list MP-elect. He produced evidence that overloaded trucks with special stickers were not being detained, nor were their drivers ever arrested. The practice had been going on for two decades, he said.

So far, 12 highway police officers out of 40 implicated in the truck sticker bribe scandal have been charged with extortion and misconduct.

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Bogus doctor arrested at Bangkok beauty clinic

Former mass communication student says he had been giving injections for five years

Police examine documents at a beauty clinic inside a hotel in Chatuchak district of Bangkok on Friday where a 33-year-old man was arrested for illegally giving filler and Botox injections. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)
Police examine documents at a beauty clinic inside a hotel in Chatuchak district of Bangkok on Friday where a 33-year-old man was arrested for illegally giving filler and Botox injections. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)

A 33-year-old man claiming to be a doctor has been arrested for illegally giving filler injections and other unlicensed services during a raid on a beauty clinic in Chatuchak district of Bangkok.

Police searched the Yongchang clinic located inside a hotel in the Lat Phrao area following a complaint that the clinic had hired unqualified staff to administer vitamin, Botox and filler injections to customers.

On arriving there, the officers found a man, identified later as Phimlaphas Phetkrachang, 33, administering injections into the face of a customer. He claimed to be a doctor.

However, checks found that the man had no medical practitioner’s licence and the clinic was also operating without a permit, said Pol Maj Gen Anan Nanasombat, commander of the Consumer Protection Police Division (CPPD).

Mr Phimlaphas was arrested and all medical products and equipment seized.

During questioning, Mr Phimlaphas admitted he studied mass communication, and not medicine, at a university. But after working as an assistant to doctors at a beauty clinic, he saw an opportunity to earn a high income.

He reportedly told police that he had been administering vitamin, filler and Botox injections at different clinics for five years, earning 20,000 to 40,000 baht a month. He had worked at the clinic for two months before being arrested.

Police said the man admitted to having administered filler injections on the foreheads of customers. Normally, doctors avoid this area because it is considered a high-risk point, with some blood vessels leading to the retina and the brain. An injection done by someone lacking expertise could lead to blindness, he claimed.

Police charged him with providing treatment without a practitioner’s licence, selling medicines without permission and selling unregistered medical products. He was held in police custody pending further legal action.

Police question employees at the Yongchang beauty clinic in Chatuchak district of Bangkok. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)

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More fences, cattle grids to exclude boars from Bukit Panjang residential areas in wake of two attacks


Boars are native to Singapore and can weigh up to 100kg, with a lifespan of over 20 years, according to NParks’ website. While omnivorous, they feed mainly on seeds, tubers and young plants. 

The mammals can reproduce up to twice a year, with a litter size of four to 12 piglets. With feeding by humans, boars can produce an even larger litter of eight to 16 piglets due to nutrients in the food, NParks told the media in a briefing. 

Boars reside in forested areas but may venture into surrounding residential areas in search of food. They may get aggressive due to urban stimulation like bright lights and loud sounds.

In May, a woman was hospitalised with multiple wounds after she was attacked by a wild boar at a bus stop along Bukit Panjang Road. The animal was euthanised after it was found to have two broken hind legs.

Another attack occurred on Jun 1, involving a 40-year-old man who was walking his dog at Zhenghua Nature Park. The boar bit the man’s leg and left him with a wound that required more than 20 stitches. 

Including these two attacks, NParks has handled three wild boar incidents as of June this year.

The agency said that these exclusion measures were to complement existing ones such as culling and limiting human sources of food. 

Zhenghua Nature Park is often used by the boars as a transit corridor due to its proximity to Chestnut Nature Park, Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Dairy Farm Nature Park. 

NParks identified three key points of connection between forested areas and Zhenghua Nature Park: Gali Batu Flyover, Bangkit underpass and along Chestnut Avenue.

“These are areas where the access points are funnelled to the shortest width, so it makes most economic sense to install barriers at these strategic locations,” group director of Wildlife Management at NParks Ryan Lee said. 

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Google, Microsoft rivalry supercharging the AI race

Microsoft and Google have recently made big investments in two of the most valuable companies in artificial intelligence (AI). OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT, has received a staggering investment of US$10 billion from Microsoft, while Google has invested $300 million in Anthropic.

The companies’ financial support for AI has pushed an ongoing rivalry into the public spotlight. Google’s struggle for dominance with Microsoft is increasingly at the forefront of discussions about AI’s future success.

Google has made enormous contributions to the field of AI development, including the invention of transformers – a particular form of machine learning, where an algorithm improves at tasks as it is “trained” on data – the advancement of techniques for automating the translation of languages and the acquisition of AI company DeepMind.

Although Google has consistently positioned itself at the forefront of AI development, a significant milestone was reached with the introduction of ChatGPT. California-based company OpenAI released ChatGPT in November 2022 and a more advanced version, GPT-4, was unveiled in February 2023.

The arrival of ChatGPT sparked widespread discussion about artificial general intelligence (AGI) – where machines surpass human intellect. This was also the focus of warnings by Geoffrey Hinton, an influential figure in AI, who gave several interviews outlining his concerns about the technology after resigning from Google earlier this year.

Consequently, the number of research papers focusing on large language models (LLMs) – the type of AI technology ChatGPT is based on – surged. Other AI research areas, such as dialogue systems and information retrieval, stand to lose out.

Amid this rapid technological disruption, it seems that Google fears losing its technological edge and market dominance.

Contradictory position?

This concern is not unwarranted. ChatGPT, made by a direct competitor, has made use of Google’s pioneering internet search techniques to generate significant profit. Furthermore, the flow of talent from Google to OpenAI – along with the latter’s rapid growth – has become a worrying trend for the search giant.

When OpenAI was founded, one of its principles was making software that was “open source”, where software is publicly available, allowing developers to share and modify it. Google, meanwhile, has maintained a relatively consistent commercial approach regarding its plans and ambitions.

However, OpenAI’s recent shift towards commercialism and closed-source practices seems to contradict its original corporate philosophy.

Representation of ChatGPt
ChatGPT has been successfully using search techniques pioneered by Google. Giulio Benzin / Shutterstock

Some industry insiders have criticized OpenAI for its somewhat contradictory posture. While it presents itself as a champion of open-source AI, it is undeniably a commercial entity, a fact it does not readily admit.

This tension between OpenAI’s public image and business realities has made the rivalry with Google even more intriguing.

One likely outcome of this competition is the continued evolution and refinement of AI technology, spurred by the need to stay ahead in the market. Google’s techniques, once exploited by OpenAI for commercial gain, will probably undergo further innovation.

This evolution will not only enhance the functionality of AI applications, but also greatly improve user experiences.

Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president at Microsoft, recently indicated that the company didn’t feel it necessary to overhaul the search landscape, as even a single point increase in market share represented a US$2 billion hike in value This strategic downsizing of their ambitions could be an attempt to lessen competitive pressures in the tech industry.

Stronger scrutiny

It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s association with OpenAI adds another layer to this complex rivalry. Google has also shown a willingness to invest in external AI projects to extend its influence.

For instance, the company’s investment in Anthropic, an AI research company, reflects Google’s strategy to maintain its technological lead through strategic partnerships.

One concern that resonates with many people, including me, is the potential for misinformation, disinformation and distortion created by ChatGPT. With over 200 million users, it serves around 2.53% of the global population.

Widespread disinformation on social media has significantly eroded trust in online content and reportedly influenced the 2016 US presidential election.

With such a vast user base for ChatGPT, it is conceivable that tech companies could manipulate conversations, subtly swaying users’ preferences and decisions in numerous ways. Therefore, the need for stronger scrutiny and regulation of these large language models is becoming increasingly urgent.

The welcome screen for the OpenAI “ChatGPT” app is displayed on a laptop screen on February 03, 2023 in London, England. Photo: Twitter / Leon Neal / Getty Images

Despite the growing competition over AI, Google remains a respected entity in the global tech industry. The AI rivalry between Google and Microsoft has driven both companies to push the boundaries of this technology, promising exciting advancements in the years to come.

The various strategies employed in this competition, from talent acquisition to strategic investments, reflect the significance of the stakes in the AI landscape. Specifically, acquiring top talent allows these companies to advance their AI capabilities, giving them a competitive edge.

Strategic investments, on the other hand, allow for diversification and expansion into new AI applications and sectors, increasing their influence and market share in the AI field. These actions underscore the high value and potential of AI technology in shaping our future.

Yali Du is Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence, King’s College London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Does Modi see himself as latter-day emperor of India?

It is a discomfiting fact that even in democracies, heads of government who have held power for 10 or more years convince themselves that they have the job for life.

Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Viktor Orban and Benjamin Netanyahu, to name but a few, assume grandiose delusions of permanence and concomitant infallibility.

India’s striking new Parliament Building boasts a mural that, according to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, illustrates Akhanda Bharat, undivided India. By accident or design, take your pick, this includes Pakistan, Bangladesh and part of Nepal.

The eminently foreseeable objections voiced by Pakistan and Bangladesh have stirred up  vociferous Hindu nationalist support for the depiction among Modi’s followers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

A spokesman for India’s Foreign Ministry explains, rather curiously, that the mural depicts the ancient Mauryan Empire under the governance of Ashoka.

The reason for the curiosity is that in about 240 BCE, Ashoka unified the subcontinent’s various kingdoms into a Buddhist empire, displacing Brahmin (that is, Hindu) rule.

As the late scholar Charles Allen wrote, “Much as Ashoka’s personal devotion to Buddhism had grown, in matters of state he continued to maintain an even hand – ‘I have honored all religions with various honors’ … promoting a Dharma based on ethics rather than anything that might be described as religious practice.”

For the following six to seven centuries Buddhism blossomed and  became the predominant faith for much of the population of the Mauryan Empire.

Part of Ashoka’s strategy for spreading this concept was erecting pillars or inscribing stones with Buddhist mantras that prescribed a way of living that refuted religious precepts founded on the Hindu philosophy of an inherent Brahmin superiority and consequential inferiority of other categories of people.

Ashoka’s Rock Edicts promote public and private morality not religion or religious practice.

The Indian parliamentary mural, as far as one can tell from pictures of it, seems to identify the location of Ashoka’s pillars and Rock Edicts and, as such, contradicts  the attempts of the BJP to harness it as indicating the past glories of an all-enveloping Hindusthan, their implicit message being, one concludes that this is the direction in which India should travel.

Most certainly, invoking the Mauryan Empire of Ashoka flies in the face of the concept of exclusive religious and political dominion by one caste and creed.    

Moreover, in his conversion to Buddhism, Ashoka underwent a fundamental change from being a ruthless and savage Hindu ruler to a man who bent his considerable power and influence to bringing the enlightenment of the Dharma to every corner of the land he governed.

Again, as Charles Allen observes, by propagating Buddhism throughout the subcontinent and beyond, even reshaping it to some degree, Ashoka transformed a minor sect into a world religion.

Ashoka’s focus on ethics contrasts rather strikingly with the Modi government’s public image: Of the 543 members of the Indian Parliament, no fewer than 116 BJP MPs face criminal charges ranging from abduction to theft and attempting to cause death or grievous injury.

There is an unnerving similarity among demagogic leaders of democracies like Modi, Erdogan, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson.

In reliance on subservient or suppressed media, a close circle of dependent sycophants and impractical promises made to relatively unsophisticated electorates, these men pervert the political process.

The ultimate check on untrammeled power should be an independent judiciary; hence that is an institution that has to be emasculated, just as Orban did and Netanyahu is trying to do, or rigged à la Trump and the US Supreme Court. 

Emperor syndrome is alive, toxic and subverting the democracies. 

The leader of the world’s largest democracy would do well to study history before assuming a permanent mantle of office.

Neville Sarony QC is a noted Hong Kong lawyer.

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