Photo/IllutrationThai police believe this residence, located in a suburb of Pattaya and containing a pool and five bedrooms, was the “base” of a Japanese telephone scam group. (Ryuta Sometaya)

When I need to transcribe an audiotape of an interview conducted in English, I sometimes farm out the job to a transcription service company, which, I have been told, has a locally staffed business office in Mumbai, India.

Since English is an official language in India, the quality of service provided by this company never fails to satisfy.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the Internet. Even a fairly long audiotape takes only a few minutes to transmit, and the transcription is e-mailed to me as soon as it’s done. How truly convenient.

The lowering of national borders is discussed in “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century,” a 2005 book by U.S. political commentator Thomas Friedman.

Indeed, the world is definitely becoming “flatter” in terms of commerce, if not in politics.

Unfortunately, it is not only legitimate businesses that are benefiting from this flattening.

In late March, Thai police arrested a group suspected of running a highly coordinated telephone scam, targeting people in Japan, from a luxury home in Pattaya, central Thailand.

The suspects, 15 in all, were Japanese citizens hailing from Fukuoka, Okinawa and other prefectures. Police seized more than 50 IP phones and multiple laptops, which are believed to have been used for communicating with the targets in Japan and sending them fake bills.

It is not known how the perpetrators managed to use the phones with Tokyo’s area code of 3--likely a trick to fool local investigative authorities into thinking the group was operating out of Tokyo.

As for why the group chose to operate out of Thailand, perhaps the relatively low cost of living there was the reason.

When fast and inexpensive modes of communication are available, coupled with the possibility of setting up shop in a country where prices and labor are cheap, there is really no need to be in one’s own country to conduct business.

In fact, that is how global corporations operate.

And this has proved to work for telephone scam operators, too. My deep sympathies are with Thai law enforcement authorities who have to work on this bizarre case.

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 11

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.