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Fake bonds seized in Thai treasure scam

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BANGKOK — Thai police seized fake U.S. bonds with a face value of $24.7 billion from a Bangkok bank vault Thursday after an attempted fraud involving claims that a vast wartime treasure trove had been found in a remote cave.

Police said two Filipinos, one Singaporean and a Thai citizen had been arrested on charges of trying to sell counterfeit debt papers.

The arrests were the latest chapter in a multibillion-dollar attempted fraud that has caused a sensation in Thailand and badly dented the government's credibility.

Deputy National Police Chief Sant Sarutanond told a news conference police arrested the four suspects after they tried to sell the fake bonds to a brother of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life in jail.

Police said the fake bonds were part of an elaborate scam in which fraudsters tried to pass them off as part of a World War II treasure haul said to have been found in a remote cave.