Police in Laos Search for Notorious Fraudster Phonethip Xaypanya

Victims of a fraudulent investment scheme gather outside a jewelry store owned by Phonethip.
Victims of a fraudulent investment scheme gather outside a Vientiane jewelry store owned by Phonethip Xaypanya.

Police are searching for a Lao fraudster and her husband who fled the country after defrauding a number of people of large sums of money.

A group of residents has filed a complaint to police regarding a 30-year-old Lao business owner named Phonethip Xaypanya, known as “Jie Thip,” who recruited followers on Facebook into a money deposit scheme that claimed to offer 30% interest every month.

One victim who came across the service advertised on Facebook by Ms. Phonethip deposited more than LAK 26 billion, THB 3 million, and USD 180,000 into the scheme.

At the end of the month, the victim attempted to make contact with Phonethip but learned that she had left the country.

The last known photo of the two fraudsters before they fled the country.

Working with her husband, Ms. Phonethip convinced victims to invest in a money deposit scheme, promoting herself by posting lottery winnings on social media in order to persuade more victims to join her scheme.

Social media has been awash with rumors suggesting that Phonethip has been apprehended by Thai police after fleeing to Thailand, however, no official account of an arrest has been reported.

Fraudulent Schemes Run Rife in Laos

Fraudulent actors have taken advantage of local people in Laos several times in the past, with the founder of the Laokham Investment Company placed under arrest in 2018, while the government issued a warning against investing with a massive international operation known as financial.org.

The PS Lao scheme gained notoriety in 2017 when PS Lao Enterprise defrauded thousands of Lao people by promising quick returns on investments if they purchased shares in the company.

Lao police detained the company’s executives after an angry mob of shareholders stormed the company headquarters demanding the return of their deposits.

In November last year, PS Lao Enterprise representatives filed for the release of the company’s two presidents and four managers in order that the company could reopen business to repay debts to those it had defrauded.

Thousands of people continue to await repayment of the amounts owed to them.