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Search engine optimisation expert and alleged fraudster Zoltan Horvah

Whiz 'Pulled Online Holidays Fraud': Phuket Police

Wednesday, November 3, 2010
A COMPUTER whiz regarded as one of the top brains in Europe has been accused of cheating Phuket tourists of hundreds of thousands of euros in an online swindle and is being extradited.

Millions of baht was involved in the package holiday fraud, which the man pulled off by working from one laptop in his bedroom, officers say.

The man, Hungarian Zoltan Arpad Horvah, 28, was being held by Immigration police in Phuket City and will probably be on a flight back to Europe today as police continue to unravel the full extent of the alleged fraud.

Mr Horvah has been on an international wanted list since October 2009 and was captured on Phuket when police went to a house in Phuket's Chaofa Garden Home development in Chalong on October 28.

His passport has been out of date since May 20, allowing Phuket police to hold him as an overstayer and process his departure quickly.

After his arrest, police discovered that his name was present on the international wanted list. Hungarian officials allege that Mr Horvah, who won a competition in Europe for computer experts, defrauded tourists from Hungary, Spain and Australia through online bookings for Phuket packages that never existed.

In the alleged scam, people paid 360 euros or the equivalent for a ''seven day resort holiday'' on the Phuket or Phang Nga beachfront. The packages, booked through online sites, including Thpages Online Media, allegedly covered fares, transfers, and most costs.

In an interview with Phuketwan and other Phuket media yesterday at Phuket City Immigration, Mr Horvah denied all the accusations.

He said his main source of income was as a search engine optimisation expert, boosting the status of commercial online sites through artificial means on Google and other Internet search engines.

Phuket Immigration Lieutenant Eakkapot Phangnga said that Mr Horvah persuaded the Tourism Authority of Thailand offices in Thailand and Hungary to support his package offer.

About 100 Hungarians, 50 Spaniards and an undetermined number of Australians lost all their money in the bookings that never materialised, he said.

The Superintendent of Phuket Immigration, Colonel Panuwat Ruamrak, said Mr Horvah worked alone from his bedroom on a laptop and was highly skilled. He had stayed with his 70-year-old father and mother on Phuket after perpetrating the fraud, the colonel said.

At least five resorts on and around Phuket were caught in the alleged swindle. One manager tried to mediate with Mr Horvah to reach a settlement at Immigration yesterday.

''Representatives from three travel companies - a resort, a diving company and a yachting busines - have sought to recover money from this man,'' the colonel said. ''About 500,000 baht has been repaid.''

When tourists asked Mr Horvah how he managed to offer the seven-day stay and fares at such a low price, he said Thailand needed visitors after the political problems in Bangkok had kept visitors from coming.
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Comments

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Since few years a lot of foreigners open websites in real estates, tour and diving businesses without physical addresses and all payment to oversea account by PayPal and claim on their website to be the largest companies in Phuket and Thailand but in fact they are renting a discreet bungalow in a small soi to avoid to be investigated by the Thai Authorities.

As they are no real control about who are the shareholders, directors and Thai staffs, they con the Thai administration with proxy Thai shareholder, directors and staffs in order to open companies with one foreigner only to work on his computer to attract tourists to book through their websites.

Negligence by the Thai authorities let them take advantage of Phuket for the benefit of their businesses. Finally, they will simply take the money back to their own country.

Since few years the diving industry, those who have invested heavily in dive boats and equipments are at the mercy of those predators who with just a few thousands baht computer grab more profit than those investing millions of baht.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on November 3, 2010 10:10

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"After his arrest, police discovered that his name was present on the international wanted list." Could someone cue the Keystone Kops music?

Posted by jon on November 3, 2010 14:40

Editor Comment:

Hmmm . . . if all police forces were as refreshingly honest about details, the music would be playing non-stop just about everywhere. Phuket's record on apprehending wanted list suspects is good, and improving.

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Zoltan Horvath stole over $140,000 from me and my family. He is not the search engine optimisation expert, I am. This is just more of his lies, fantasies and bs. Just wait to he views the new website i am putting live about him.

Posted by Paul Klerck on January 13, 2011 19:08


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