A New Zealander has been arrested in Thailand after his alleged involvement in a fake kidnapping to extort money from the parents of the ‘victim’.
When Ian Day called his parents on FaceTime, he appeared
battered and bruised and was surrounded by three masked men.
His alleged captors were demanding ransom for his release from a location in Pattaya, Thailand.
He needed money urgently.
According to police, he also sent text and photo messages to his family, showing himself being beaten up.
Day’s UK-based parents were frantic and needed help. They called British police who in turn engaged Interpol and Thailand authorities.
But when a special squad of Thailand’s elite armed police stormed the rented accommodation in Pattaya, where Day was apparently being held, they instead found the four men partying.
The hoax kidnap – an alleged plan to extort money from Day’s parents after he and his friends had run out of money in the Thai sex capital – had unravelled.
The four men – Day, 48, and another British man, 57, along with a New Zealander, 36, and a Frenchman, 50 – have been arrested and are facing a raft of charges including jointly possessing unauthorised firearms, ammunition and drugs.
According to The Bangkok Post, officers seized 0.6g of crystal methamphetamine, a 32mm revolver and six bullets during the raid.
The Kiwi has been identified as Ben Cooper.
An MFAT spokeswoman told the Herald: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to a New Zealander in Thailand. For privacy reasons, no further information will be provided.”
Police Lieutenant Colonel Sorasak Saengcha told The Sun that Day had used iMessage and FaceTime to communicate with his relatives.
“He sent pictures of himself being attacked and then after with injuries. His friends would punch him and give him bruises on his face,” Saengcha told The Sun.
“He made his three friends wear masks in the videos and act like gangsters.
“He staged the kidnap and asked his family to send money. They were worried and contacted police in the UK. Interpol was informed.
“Interpol contacted Thai police and we traced the man. But when we arrived, they were having a party.”
Thai police said time and resources were wasted on the “kidnap”.
“We acted quickly because there were fears for his safety,” Police Major General Montree Theskhan told The Sun.
“When the police arrived, he was doing something illegal himself. He will now be prosecuted.”
Images from the police raid show Day and the other three men sitting on the floor of the apartment, with their hands tied and surrounded by armed officers.
There are reports that the men hatched the plan after they had run out of money in the notorious tourist destination, where almost 20 per cent of the workforce is employed in the sex trade.
The men could face heavy penalties, including prison.
The men have apparently been living in Thailand for some time and were found to have overstayed their visas. They will be reportedly deported once they are dealt with by authorities.
Pattaya, a former fishing village, became popular with American soldiers in the 1960s, while they were on breaks from their US military bases in Thailand.
Over the years, Thailand has tried to crack down on prostitution and other illegal behaviour in the city, which has been described in the Daily Mail as a “semi-barbarous sex-tourism hellscape”.
In 2017, the then Thai tourism minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul promised a clean-up of the city’s sex industry.
“Tourists don’t come to Thailand for such a thing,” she said.
“They come here for our beautiful culture. We want Thailand to be about quality tourism. We want the sex industry gone.”
- Editor-at-Large Shayne Currie is one of New Zealand’s most experienced senior journalists and media leaders. He has held executive and senior editorial roles at NZME including Managing Editor, NZ Herald Editor and Herald on Sunday Editor