It's been six months - where has he been?
Dear readers and expats,
It's been just about six months since my last dispatch. Some of you must've been wondering where I went. Others probably didn't notice — and that’s OK, I wasn’t thinking about you either. I kid, I kid.
But I have been thinking about where I want to take True Crime Thailand.
In the past six months I did launch a podcast where I’ve recorded six episodes — you can find them on the Anchor platform if you want to listen here.
Two of the episodes center on the Chuck Ditlefsen case. You can find the 1st episode here and the 2nd episode here. I am putting together another episode to wrap up this story, but I want to do it in the right way.
There’s just a flood of info and contacts that have come my way since putting out this story and I want to do it proper justice, even if it means I’ve got to stew on it longer than I’ve wanted.
There’s also an episode about Thai black magic and murder here.
Scammer case update
Another update that you will be glad to hear is that the guy who was scamming people on Facebook groups, who I wrote about earlier this year, was nabbed by the Thai police.
His name? Darragh O’Driscoll. He scammed hundreds of people over the past 2+ years with a Facebook buy/sell group scheme.
And he is the man I wrote about 6 months ago.
Here's a link to voice messages I got of him and a run down of his M.O.
I got these audio messages from a buddy of mine in Chiang Mai who was a victim of the scam and was working with Thai police.
After this was put out, Darragh wasn't happy. He spent a good share of time stalking me across various social media platforms and making toothless threats. He’d been exposed with the voice recordings that I released.
I was also contacted by somebody who I personally trust and know, who had been able to identify Darragh — whose nickname is Harry — based on the audio recordings.
That was on March 7th, shortly after the recordings were released.
That wouldn’t make any crook happy. So, he started slipping up. He ended up getting busted in early October, seven months after I put out the details on this guy. It’s important to note that the details that were released about Darragh’s crimes underestimate his activity — he was much more prolific than reported.
He also was not acting alone. That is to say, the scams are continuing, likely by people who collaborated with Darragh. This is something I will be writing more about as I gather facts and details.
If you’re unfamiliar with this scam story, I’ll give a quick overview here.
What was his M.O.?
He did his scams mainly on Facebook buy/sell groups.
He operated 1,000's of Facebook profiles — basically cycling through them so there was no way to identify any one particular profile as being the culprit. I was in communication with Facebook group admins across Thailand about this situation, but due to the number of profiles the scammer used, it was difficult to stop.
Darragh would join the FB groups throughout the major cities in the country, and made posts with comments turned off.
He would hawk electronics — laptops, iPhone's, stuff that people want — for a deep discount. Deals too good to be true. The reason he'd give was that his "wife just got a new phone, need to sell this fast" kinda thing.
He wouldn't do in person sales
He'd ask the mark to transfer the cash, then he'd send the stuff. Well, the stuff never came. It need not be said, but I’ll say it anyway — never transfer money to an unknown seller for goods to be shipped. Never.
The clever part of Darragh’s grift was that his old lady worked at a Thai bank. So she was able to set up bank accounts for the transfers, which were in the names of gold shop owners
Police traced the gold shops to different provinces like Phitsanulok.
When the mark transferred the money, it’d land in the accounts of the gold shop owners. The gold shop owners would then send the equivalent value of gold to a pick-up points — really, random addresses in Chonburi — where the scammer would pick up the gold.
Very hard to bust. Chiang Mai police, who were working with a friend of mine on the case, hit a dead end at the gold shops.
Darragh had been on the scam for 2 years+. That friend of mine got hit earlier this year for about 14,000 baht.
The scammer slipped up, though. He had sent my buddy a bunch of audio messages on Facebook Messenger.
So I took all those messages and published them on my newsletter. Whoops — sorry, Darragh.
We identified where Darragh was from by accent — County Cork, Ireland.
People who needed that name got it.
The case progressed from there and the cops finally took Darragh down.
Many people have contacted me about this guy. People who were scammed.
I remember seeing the guy's posts on Facebook, too.
Darragh had a clever scheme going but I think he got too confident. He even tried to put me off the trail with this email, which I randomly received about a week after releasing the audio messages, saying that the scammer “sold all of the Facebook accounts to a black guy”.
Well, Mr. Darragh “Hairy” O’Driscoll won’t be running his scam anymore — but others are. I’ll write more about this later.
The bulk of my time over the past six months has been dedicated to finishing up a novel. I actually have three novels up my sleeve, which follow a continuous storyline, protagonist, and cast of characters.
I’ve put a great deal of thought into it and I have decided to release them in a serialized fashion.
What’s that mean? Well, every week I’ll send out a chunk of the story — each one being like an episode — to this email list. I have enough material to send for months.
I’ll include links where you can download the story in various formats (.epub, .mobi, .pdf, etc.) for eReaders such as Kindle, too.
Over time I will bundle the installments together and publish them in complete novels and sets.
This approach might seem counterintuitive to some — “Why not just release the novel all at once?” — but I have done a great deal of self-reflection and have realized that regular, achievable deadlines are a net-positive for my creative output. Plus, I thrive on regular feedback from readers.
Truthfully, I’m an addict for the dopamine hit that comes from a reader responding to my writing — I can admit that shamelessly!
I also see this as a way to grow the list of subscribers here, as it will be the exclusive place to read the stories for free.
I’ve laid out a plan for publishing without even telling you what the stories are about. No fear — the first installment will be out this Sunday, and every Sunday after.
If you’re a fan of true crime and Thailand, then you’ll like these stories.
What about the true crime?
I want to get back into a regular publishing schedule for true crime dispatches.
I was doing a daily thing for awhile — The Crime Pill — but I think that might’ve been pulling the string of my lute too tight, as it were. But I also don’t want the strings too slack so the lute won’t play — like sending one dispatch every six months.
Once or twice a week I will be writing about crime in Thailand from a different angle. I want to play to my strengths — meticulous research and a knack for engaging prose. The trifecta here will be stories that actually matter. Not just chasing the daily headlines. I want to piece together a puzzle that shows how crime plays out in Thailand.
Something worth your while to read and share.
I’ve got a story to do just that in my next dispatch.
Until then, stay safe out there everybody,
- True Crime Thailand