Thailand police have issued arrest warrants for 24 others on charges of forging medical rubber goods in an operation sparked by a CNN investigation.
The recent arrest of nine individuals was based on evidence provided by authorities in Taiwan, where fraudsters also sold fake medical gloves.
A total of 50 people have been detained in connection with an operation uncovered by CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight earlier this year that traded hundreds of fake medical gloves worth millions of dollars online.
The Hong Kong-based victims of fraud staged “buybacks” of the rubber goods that they found online for a reduced price before selling them on eBay, where they were bought by buyers for double or triple the price.
In May, CNN interviewed several Chinese nationals who all said they had paid five times or more for their fake medical gloves, which appeared identical to their real rubber gloves.
CNN discovered that Thai authorities were aware of the operation earlier this year and authorities in Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong on Thursday announced the arrest warrants.
Thai police chief Piyaporn Siripan “Noprit” Namsanyap said in a statement on Thursday that authorities would continue to carry out the search on those “usurping trade of health materials for non-medical purposes.”
In a separate statement posted on Twitter, police in Thailand said they are working with a Hong Kong team to arrest 48 people.
A video attached to the Thai police statement features Jimmy Chid, the Hong Kong-based investigative reporter who spent three years researching the medical gloves scam.
Chid said “thousands” of thousands of counterfeit rubber goods, which were mostly imported from China and Hong Kong, had been seized as police swept Thai internet sellers of medicines and medical goods.
The selling of a personal product — so-called fake medical goods — in Thailand takes advantage of Thailand’s medical tourism industry. Thailand’s medical tourism industry has flourished over the last decade due to hospitals’ generous free-staying programs and a wealth of inexpensive local medical facilities that are unused to give treatments in other countries.
“Thailand’s medical tourism industry is experiencing a fantastic growth of more than 600 percent year after year,” Piyaporn said.
Authorities previously said their crackdown in the medical goods sector had netted thousands of fake medical products.
The CNN investigation into fake medical gloves in Thailand came two months after the network’s Joe Johns exposed an operation similar to the one operated by the Thai scam in a previous investigative segment.
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After posting the video to Facebook Live earlier this year, Johns discovered that Bangkok police had coordinated a sting operation that led to the arrests of 34 people in Thailand.
Thai police said last month that they had also arrested two suspects in June with items related to the medical equipment scam.
CNN’s Hong Kong-based reporter Ben Bolt reported that his story showed that there had been a $23 million health care black market within Asia.
It’s not the first time CNN has led investigations exposing Asian crime rings operating on social media platforms.
In July, a news station in Hong Kong revealed a ruthless fraud ring that called itself Fancy Bear that was sending fake news from Russia to mail thieves in the United States.
The group was targeting companies and making them an offer of a limited-edition merchandise at high prices, often on Amazon, that often turned out to be a fake or be an existing product.
In March, CNN revealed that U.S. police had used Facebook’s new video storage feature to nab business fraudsters.
Fraudsters were using the platform to take money from small businesses or individuals, either through a fake online order or by posing as employees.