BANGKOK, June 8 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's crime suppression body has been urged to investigate a fraud in which more than 2,000 people were lured to invest in raising crayfish that were said to be able to bring high profit, local media reported Thursday.
Ten victims were led to file a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) against the chairman of the so-called crayfish federation of Thailand, Bangkok Biznews said.
According to the victims, at least a total of 20 million baht (570,000 U.S. dollars) has been invested into the crayfish breeding scam, which took place since last November.
The federation asked people to pay at least 15,000 baht (429 U.S. dollars) each as membership fees, to buy crayfish for breeding, promising that it would purchase the matured crayfish at a price between 400 baht to 700 baht (11 to 20 U.S. dollars) per km.
The federation, characterized by a pyramid scheme, also established networks at the district and provincial levels. District and provincial network chiefs had to pay 30,000 baht and 50,000 baht (857 and 1,428 U.S. dollars) respectively. They were supposed to get 10 percent of the membership fees of members they recruited.
In order to make it more credible, the federation frequently invites experts to give lectures to its members on how to breed crayfish, local media said.
However, after their crayfish purchased by the federation just once or twice, the federation fell silent, the victims said, adding that the bought crayfish were used for luring new members.
Crayfish, known as crawfish, are freshwater crustaceans closely related to the prized seafood lobster that lives in the sea.
The prices of ornamental crayfish usually start at 100 baht each and the maximum price is usually 100,000 to 200,000 baht (2,857 to 5,714 U.S. dollars). It's widely believed in Thailand that crayfish farming will bring a lucrative income.
Some victims learned that the federation was not registered in the Commerce Ministry.
The case is under investigation.