Thai police nab fake high-brow gang that scammed weddings

Thai police say they have 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 Col. Phumin Pumpanmuang said Friday that eight suspects — the monk and seven relatives — were taken into custody. He said the monk would attend weddings as an honored guest with his relatives pretending to be high-ranking figures presenting him with offerings. They would then press the wedding party for donations, which were awkward to refuse.

For their claims of royal ties, the gang members were charged with offending the monarchy, which is punishable by three to 15 years in prison. The charge is usually applied to people accused of insulting the monarchy.