Police on Monday arrested three Chinese nationals in Thailand after being nabbed with 474 iPhones and nearly 350,000 SIM cards which they used to manipulate product information on WeChat.
Police officer Wassapan Sirikulkamonchat said in addition to the iPhones and SIM cards, police also found 21 SIM card readers and nine computers in the raid at their apartment.
He said the three reportedly confessed that they were hired to falsify the popularity of certain WeChat pages selling products in China by boosting social media “likes’’ and page views.WeChat is a Chinese social media app with almost a billion users.
Wassapan said that Wang Dong, 33, Niu Bang, 25 and Ni Wenjin, 31, were arrested in Sa Kaeo province, 200 km east of Bangkok, following a tip-off by locals who suspected them of working illegally in Thailand.
The three were charged with working without a permit in Thailand and smuggling electronic gadgets from China.
He said they are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
The officer said that although working without a permit in Thailand could lead to five years in prison, the three men are likely to only pay fines related to their charges and be deported back to China.
In the meantime, a China Eastern Airlines plane has had to turn back to Sydney airport after a technical failure which left a hole in an engine casing.
Flight MU736 was heading from Sydney, Australia to Shanghai, but the pilot reported problems with the engine about one hour after taking off.
Passengers, who had to spend the night in Sydney, told media they smelt something burning inside the aircraft.
The Airbus A330 landed safely and there were no reports of injuries.
Images circulating on social media showed a large hole in the engine casing.
Several passengers said they had heard a loud sound coming from the left engine shortly after take-off.
One passenger told Australia’s Seven News network: “All of a sudden we heard this noise… it kind of smelt like burning”.
“I was really scared. Our group was terrified.”
One woman on the flight told news agency Reuters: “The cabin crew went out and told us to fasten our seatbelts and tried to calm us down, but we were actually very panicked because we had no idea what was happening.”
Passengers said the crew cleared the seats near the affected engine.
China Eastern Airlines said in a statement to the media that the crew had “observed the abnormal situation of the left engine and decided to return to Sydney airport immediately”.
It added that all passengers would be placed on flights leaving on Monday.
With reports from BBC