What to watch out for while you are travelling…
If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. But despite people realising this, numerous people get caught by a scam every year. People who are usually sensible about things get sucked into schemes that on the face of it seem reliable, but which almost always turn out damaging. It is easy enough to blame people for their own manipulation – greed is often an influencing factor; possibly some people are just innocent. But there’s more to it than that… Many of the people involved in scams are credible and convincing enough to make even the most careful person get involved in things without realising what they are doing.
What follows is a list of scams travelers have come across… Be warned!
Steve writes: “Long distance taxi from Surat Thani to Malaysia. If you’re taking a long distance taxi (truck/car) from Surat Thani to the Malaysian border some operators are telling people that they must have cash to get across the border. E.g. they’ll tell you that you must have at least MYR600 (THB7,000) for the Malaysian authorities to allow you into Malaysia. The scammers hope you a) believe them and b) have no Ringgit. 9 times out of 10 you\’re setting off very early (e.g.4am) so there’s no way you can delay your taxi until the banks open to change your bhatt for ringgit. But fortunately it’s OK because, guess what, the taxi people can change your money for you. Needless to say a) they\’ll rip you off, giving you half the ringgit you should get for your bhatt and b) it\’s a complete scam and has no truth to it. Don’t fall for changing your money with them, or anyone else other than a bank – bona-fide bureau de change. You know, places with the exchange rates all lit up on a big board! Hope this helps.” Thanks for this Steve.
Aces low …
Jacko writes: “I was approached by a pretty girl who saw I was from New Zealand, she said her sister was going to Auckland Uni and would I speak to her mother, to put her mind at ease. At this point her brother turned up and they hailed a taxi to the outskirts of town. They lived in a nice house and I was offered some rice, [no problems so far] must wait for mother not long, father comes in, he is a dealer in the casino and has a very rich friend who will be coming by shortly to play a few hands of 21, the other guy arrives and plays the hands against the brother of course he doesn’t mind if I watch (before he arrived the dealer showed us both a code he would use to tell us what the rich guy had in his hand – how would he know??? The rich guy was so arrogant that he shows his cards to the dealer) yeah right! The rich guy makes a bet on 16 ,but the brother did’nt have enough to cover the bet although I know he will win, the rich guy is asked if I can support the brother with funds. Of course, I stand up thank them for the experience shake their hands and leave knowing that I have been very lucky that they were such amateurs – this started outside the Pantip Plaza.
Please note: Gambling is illegal in Thailand – don’t get involved or you will suffer the consequences.
Peanuts, fruit and warm towels
Bryan Rilinger writes: “I was scammed to a much lessor degree than some of the stories I have seen here. I truly feel bad for the people that have fallen folly to the gem scam. I have been touted to a tailor, but I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything, the Tuk-tuk driver did feed me the usual story about the “gas coupon” etc, and did drop me off several blocks from where I asked to be. Just something little to look out for: At Karoake bars (the real karaoke ones) will often bring peanuts and fruit, warm towels, etc. to your table. As a westerner, you may assume that these are complementary items designed to keep you in the establishment. THEY ARE NOT! They are usually outrageously priced and even if you do not consume them, you are charged for them. So if you are ever brought a plate of fruit, tell them you do NOT WANT it, and send it back. Else, you will end up paying 500 BHT for it.”
A bad experience on my first day
Andy writes: “I was in bangkok for 5 days, from the 23rd Dec to 27th Dec.. had a bad experience on my first day there. Check into Novotel on Siam Sq. at about 12noon. had an hour’s rest before going out to visit the grand palace. I flagged a taxi cab on the main road of the hotel. Asked him to bring me to grand palace and made sure he used the meter. He said ok. Now, thats where my adventure begin. He began telling me and my girlfriend about thailand, and his wife working in my country, singapore. All along he never thought that i know he was taking a long way round Silom to get to the grand palace (i had a map) i was telling myself, maybe he just wanted to earn more, so i was fine with it. But then, half way during the journey, he told me that the grand palace would be closed soon.
The time was 2:30pm and i know that grand palace closes at 3:30pm. So without my approval, he turn off the meter (was about 70 baht on the meter)and told me he would send me back to my hotel for 50 baht only. He then drove me to a Gem shop or factory along Rama VI road… i sensed a rat… and when we reached there, luckily for me, he went to the toilet, and i gave him the slip.
The next few days (all 5 days of my stay), i saw this guy, the same taxi driver hanging around my hotel (Novotel on siam sq.) waiting for other tourists to prey on…he did came up to me and told me that i didn’t pay him on that day, but i didn’t bother about him. Last thing. never allow any driver or tuk tuk rider to being u anywhere besides the place u wan to go. on my second day, i took a tuk tuk from chinatown to silom. I wanted to visit a seafood restuartant along Pan Road. This tuk tuk driver reccmended me a seafood market oppsite Lumpini park, behind the suan lom night bazzar.
This place is not marked on my map. so i presummed it was new. So i said ok, and he brought us there. My girlfriend and i ordered 1 bbq lobster, 1 big crab fried with chilli, 1 fresh steam garupa fish and a plate of vegetables. its not very much, but when the bill came. my god… 3920 baht WITHOUT 10% VAT… i ended paying up about 4200 baht for my meal… for 2 persons…well…
Once bitten twice shy…
I got scammed!
Bret writes: ” I got scammed in 1999, in Bangkok. I had just arrived in Thailand, and was still suffering from jetlag. The scam artists can tell when you are ‘green’ or just off the plane. He took me in his tuk-tuk to a local tailor shop. I ended up buying a tuxedo, which I have yet to wear, 4 years later. It was over-priced, but at least, well made. Once I realized my scam, I confronted the main tailor, who was a European national. He said the tourist police would do nothing to help me, since I agreed to buy the suit. Now, after my 4th trip to Thailand, I will never be scammed again.”
More on the jewelry scam…
See writes: “I got the same experience regarding the jewelry scam as well. Both Tuk Tuk drivers came up with the same story about once a year for 7 days sale tax free, how this event came about because the government is giving Thai students a chance to earn some money this way instead of from heroin… blah blah blah. Anyway I was shown to a few places on the first day but thanks to the travel guides and your website, I was onto them immediately. Both promised me 10b/hr and took me to gem stores and tailors shops. The first one, after prodding said he needed the coupon for petrol and I had to spend 10 mins above in these shops. He didn’t bring me to the Marble temple but to some other place with a small reclining Buddha where I met the accomplice “coincidentally”. I saw the Buddha from the doorway and decided that I didn’t want to go in. The accomplice, who was going in in the first place, did a turnaround and followed me, asking me questions and finally telling me about the so-called famous jewelry sale. The second one, after I told him about the first Tuk Tuk driver (outside Wat Pho), changed tactics by pretending he is government-licensed and the first wasn’t. I went along and halfway, he wanted to show me some Wat with the happy Buddha and some import-export place. I was really disappointed that I got another Tuk Tuk driver like that. I decided to get it all over with and said that he must bring me to Chinatown after the so-called import-export shop he’s going to bring me to. Incidentally, it’s the same shop that the previous Tuk Tuk driver brought me to yesterday. I didn’t go in and guess what, he dropped me off at least 2 streets away from Chinatown. Being new, I didn’t know where Chinatown is. The only help I had was the map I got from the airport. Anyway, these drivers dumped you the minute you outlived your usefulness to them. Given a chance, I would recommend taxis instead if you can afford them. They are a/c and you can insist on the meter.”
Had a problem? Been scammed? Let us know…