Bitcoin mining has been halted in China's Sichuan province. Image: AFP

Thai immigration officials have arrested 24 Chinese nationals who were allegedly running a cryptocurrency scam call center in Bangkok’s Rama III neighborhood, Cointelegraph reported.

According to an official announcement on December 2, the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Police arrested 24 individuals and seized 61 laptops, 424 mobile phones and several routers.

The Immigration Bureau said the operation hired employees on three-month contracts, wherein all their expenses were paid including a 5,000 yuan ($710) monthly salary. After arriving, workers would surrender their passports to the head of the operation. Employees would work shifts from 9 am to 10 pm.

The suspects allegedly persuaded Chinese investors to buy bitcoin and fudged the rates in order to make a profit.

Local daily newspaper the Chiang Rai Times said the Immigration Bureau busted a number of call center scams operated by Chinese nationals. On Friday Immigration police raided a stock speculation scheme run by Chinese teenagers. Fifty-four minors were reportedly arrested at a Thai resort hotel for duping Chinese-based investors into investing in bogus stocks.

Scammers reportedly had a target to raise 5 million Thai baht ($165,000) from investors that they met in internet chat rooms. Police are still in pursuit of the operation’s organizer who, like the head of the purported bitcoin scam, is in possession of the employees’ passports.

Regulatory framework

While trading cryptocurrencies in Thailand is legal, the country has a regulatory framework and compliance standards for the industry.

Both the issuance of tokens and the trading of cryptocurrencies in a secondary market are regulated by law under a series of decrees. In cryptocurrency exchanges, acceptable trading pairs for cryptocurrencies are either the country’s fiat currency, the baht, or cryptocurrencies which have been approved by the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additionally cryptocurrency-related business must be considered a financial institution under the country’s anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism, and know your customer regulations.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, lawmakers in Thailand plan to reform cryptocurrency laws amid concerns that such regulations make the country uncompetitive.

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