Thai Actor and Victim’s Bitcoin Buddy Implicated in Kidnapping and Ransom of Singaporean National in Thailand

The star's pickup truck used in the crime of a businessman, who transferred US$742,418 in bitcoin to his abductors


A Singaporean national – Lee Wei Kim – has been taken into custody for kidnapping his business colleague Mark Cheng Jin Quan, 32,  in Thailand this week. Thai actor Chano Pemberger, whose car police said was used in the kidnapping, is also under investigation as his vehicle was tagged in the alleged crime. Thailand news source Thairath said the vehicle used in the kidnapping was registered to Pemberger, a  24-year-old actor who appeared in several soap operas some years ago. 

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Thai police Sunday arrested the alleged kidnapper, Singaporean Lee Wei Kim, and recovered most of the ransom, worth THB1.4 million (US$46,000) and paid in bitcoin by Mark Cheng Jin Quan.

Cheng, who is no angel – was charged in Singapore last year with dishonest misappropriation of over S$300,000 from an investment company in 2014 and is now out on bail. Hew founded a startup nonprofit called Avelife Foundation and a mere four years ago was personally granted an award from Queen Elizabeth for a project that helped the elderly exchange recyclable materials for groceries. 

The two men appear to have met via the Bitcoin community in Singapore.  

“I didn’t expect my friend to be involved. I really don’t know who I can trust now,” Cheng was quoted in The New Paper. 

Event though Cheng paid his captors more than $60,000 in Bitcoin for his freedom, he told police Kim was still going to execute him at gunpoint until he managed to escape at the last minute.

According to the Straight Times, Cheng and Lee flew into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport last week and caught a taxi together. The alleged kidnapper Lee asked to stop at a petrol station about an hour southeast of the capital in Chachoengsao province, where they were said to be ambushed by a group of masked men and hustled into a black Ford Ranger then they were taken north to the Kabin Buri district of Prachinburi province.

Cheng was then beaten and forced to pay bitcoin for his freedom but managed to escape. 

The police hunted down Lee and soon arrested him Sunday at a Bangkok hotel and managed to recover most of the stolen funds from him. 

He was charged with robbery, illegal detention, assault and illegal firearms possession. The police said he confessed to all counts including robbery, illegal detention, assault and illegal firearms possession.