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Unlicensed vendors swindle overseas workers

15 September 2023

The large gap between the central bank’s forex rates and actual market rates continues to push struggling Myanmar citizens towards illegal financial services to circumvent fees and excessive red tape but more importantly to receive the proper value for their foreign currencies.

There has been a noticeable rise in people being scammed or swindled by these unlicensed vendors. People in rural areas with limited digital literacy are at the top of those affected but some online vendors have adopted a more patient approach. 

As the SAC and the central bank cracked down on unlicensed vendors publishing actual market exchange rates, informal agents have not been willing to share exchange rates unless a trade would actually take place. Thus, online pages which continued to share actual market rates amid the heightened crackdowns gained some public trust and soon started offering exchange services.

Min Myat Khine was one such online vendor which has swindled close to Ks20m according to its victims. It used channels such as WaveMoney, KPay, AYA Pay, CB Pay, and Kasikorn bank to mainly target Myanmar migrants working in Thailand who wished to send money back home.

After it has received the cash to be transferred, the vendor will block all the victim’s attempts to contact them and disappear. Local news outlets Dawei Watch and Tachilek News Agency have reported that similar incidents have been on the rise since 2021.