An AP report carried in the New York Times is yet another account of a royal scam that has resulted in lese majeste charges.
On 27 January 2017, police “arrested a gang of wedding crashers led by a Buddhist monk who scammed couples by pretending to be officials with royal links and demanding money for their prestigious presence at nuptials.”
Police revealed that “eight suspects, the monk and seven relatives, have been taken into custody.” Another suspect remains at large.
It is unclear if the monk was a monk or was posing as one.
The monk would attend weddings, funerals and temple ceremonies in Nakhon Pathom province and other provinces close to Bangkok “as an honored guest, with his relatives pretending to be high-ranking and respected figures presenting him with offerings.”
Following that the would solicit “donations,” which given the royal link, “would be awkward to refuse.” One report claimed they had netted $500,000.
Any sensible person in a modern country might think that these grifters might be charged with fraud and similar crimes. However, in feudal Thailand, because of “their claims of royal ties, the gang members were charged with lese majeste … punishable by three to 15 years in prison.”