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Man Arrested for Hacking Gov’t Cash Giveaway Website

BANGKOK — Police on Tuesday said a man was arrested for allegedly launching a cyberattack on the registration website for a government cash handout program

Cyber police commander Paiboon Noihoon said Thiranat Mahatthanobol, 19, confessed to coding and executing malicious software to repeatedly sign up on the “Chim, Shop, Chai” website, which caused the system to crash and delay for thousands of Thai who rushed to register for the 1,000 baht giveaway scheme.

“The man was detained at his house in Pattani. He confessed that he acted on his own. He was challenging his skills,” Police Maj. Gen. Paiboon said. “We are deciding whether to press charges against others who used his software.”

The attack took place on Oct. 25, the second day of registration. The police said Thiranat posted a malware-planted link to the website on his Facebook, saying that his link can bypass the queue.

The police believed that Thiranat might have aimed to reserve quotas for his personal gain as the scheme has a limited quota of 500,000 applicants per registration round. Nevertheless, police said he could not get the credit he aimed for, as the process run by the software was incomplete.

Thiranat was charged for disrupting traffic to the website and disseminating malicious software. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Registration for the scheme is highly competitive. It took only an hour to fill up the quota on the first day of registration on Oct. 24, according to the Finance Ministry.

“Chim, Shop, Chai (Taste, Shop, Spend)” is a government-sponsored program which aims to circulate more money in the economy. Registered citizens are entitled to 1,000 baht credit to spend at participating stores and a 20 percent rebate up to 50,000 baht for their purchases

However, the credit has to be used at other provinces than their registered address.

Ten million people have already signed up for the first phase of the scheme while registration for the second phase is now open for additional three million quotas.


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