Frenchman free on bail for Jan. ATM card fraud arrested again


A Middle Eastern French national out on bail for electronic fraud charges was arrested again, this time for allegedly using a fake passport.

Ahmed Houachem, 35, was charged with illegally entering Thailand under the assumed name “Samir Raihane.” He and fellow French national Nagim Hassaina, 33, were captured in their hotel rooms in north Pattaya Jan. 14. A team of Pattaya, Chonburi Provincial and Immigration Department Transnational Crime investigators seized 31 fake credit and ATM cards and 125,000 baht from the two men and their belongings.

The perpetrators await processing at the Pattaya police station. The perpetrators await processing at the Pattaya police station.

Police claim the two men confessed to being part of a larger credit-card crime ring and worked for 30 percent of whatever cash they withdrew. To date, they’d taken more than 10 million baht out of machines from Chiang Mai to Phuket, police said.

Thai courts, however, allowed Houachem to go free on bail and, Pattaya Police allege, he went back to stealing from area ATMs. Police have photos of him withdrawing cash, but not enough evidence about the cards used to arrest him.

Houachem was arrested along with two other Middle Eastern men carrying French passports – Malik Zitouni, 27, and Frank Israel Amsellem, 31 – when police detected marijuana use in their room at Jomtien Beach’s White House motel. Police arrested Zitouni and Amsellem on charges of possessing and Class 5 narcotic, then discovered Houachem when they searched the two drug suspects’ room.

Houachem this time was denied bail.