Region 2 Police commander Lt. Gen. Punya Mamen led officers in the Feb. 17 arrest of Pual Michael, 41, of Mozambique and Yulia Maksimova, 24, from Russia, along with a 3rd suspect who carried two passports, one each under the name of Biodun Agbajeola, 39, from Nigeria and Ambiton Tembo, 30, from Zambia. The arrests took place at a well-known high rise condominium in Jomtien Beach. Officers seized notebook computers with lists of bank account details and 15 counterfeit ATM cards.
Faces of the ubiquitous “Nigerian” email scam: (L to R) Pual Michael, Biodun Agbajeola and Yulia Maksimova (inset).
Punya said Nong Khai police requested his help after a Laotian tourist said she’d fallen into a trap sprung from an email offering her a chance to get rich by fronting a supposed U.S. serviceman in Iraq a cash deposit on an investment. It wasn’t until she’d made numerous bank transfers totaling 21 million baht before she realized she’d been duped.
Police said Biodun, 41, allegedly confessed to running the email fraud ring using the 39-year-old African and 24-year-old Russian friends as partners, both of whom denied any involvement.
Biodun allegedly told police he wrote in the email that he was US Navy Admiral William Macravens, claiming he had tucked away 2 million dollars in a UN warehouse in United Kingdom and had to marry Laotian woman in order to surreptitiously get the money out and live his retirement life.
After the victim transferred 21 million baht to the scammers’ bank account, became suspicious and reported the matter to the Nong Khai police, authorities were able to determine the criminals had been withdrawing the money in Pattaya. From there it was an easy trace leading to the arrest.