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> Scams on the up in Thailand, Be extra careful
barsie
post Mar 4 2009, 05:36 AM
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There are a lot more than the usual scams going on in Thailand at the moment.

The economic crisis is hitting hard in a number of ways. Firstly the bar industry- a large part of their tourist income and employment is down 40% compared to last year. That's during their peak season. Secondly price of the baht so both tourists visiting and expats living there have less to spend.

Example- 6 months ago when I was in Thailand I was getting 63 baht to the pound - it's recently got as low as 42 baht to the pound.

Now one of the other worrying things is with the downturn is an increase in counterfeit currency- if you get caught passing fake money you could get in a lot of trouble. Regardless of how you got the money in the first place. Check your change carefully, you may also notice that you are now getting short changed. Another trick is you will receive your money often in smaller bills and some coins to encourage you to leave a tip.

I could go on- there are a lot more tricks going on at the moment. However it's no need to be alarmed, just practice the usual vigilance as you always should traveling in a unfamiliar country.


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starlagurl
post Mar 4 2009, 10:38 AM
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What are the "usual" scams?


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barsie
post Mar 4 2009, 11:02 AM
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QUOTE(starlagurl @ Mar 4 2009, 03:38 PM) *

What are the "usual" scams?


I'm going to be lazy and rather than take an hour typing it all up in my own words I have taken some exerts from a brilliant website about the darker side of Thailand ( www.stickmanbangkok.com ).

If you intend to go to Thailand it's well worth a read- though i've been reading it for 2 years now and not even through half the content!

Standard Scams in Thailand:


Jewel scam
As mentioned already, tourists are often tricked to part with their money, a crime where greed of the victim is exploited. Tourists are approached by well dressed Thais in popular tourist areas or by tuktuk or taxi drivers and are taken to a gem store or a jeweler store. They may be offered fake jewellery at inflated prices with the promise that the sale of this jeweler or gem stones in one's own country could make the tourist very rich indeed. Some incredibly silly tourists have gone on to spend a fortune, thinking that they could return to their own country and get rich overnight, only to later find out that the stones they bought were imitation and pretty much worthless.

TukTuk drivers
A similar type of scams occurs with the tuktuk drivers and to a lesser extent, taxi drivers, in Bangkok. As a foreigner you stand out in the crowd and you will be constantly approached by taxi and tuktuk drivers inviting you on a "tour of Bangkok". They might even off to take you on a tour for anywhere between 1 and 3 hours, all for a silly fee, like 10 or 20 baht. They are not about to take you around the temples, museums or places of historic interest, but around a bunch of stores where the sales assistants will put pressure on you to buy something. Many of the goods are for sale at high prices and the tuktuk or taxi driver who takes you to the establishment will get a significant commission on everything you buy. These shops can be really sneaky. After battling the heat, you will be led into a shop with cool air-conditioning, often by a very pretty and charming Thai lady, well dressed, and who speaks very good English. In the more sophisticated operations you will be offered a choice of cold drink and a cool, wet towel to wipe away the sweat and dirt. But in no time the snakes will be all over you, pressuring you to buy something in their store. If they sense that you are going to buy something he charm will remain but if they feel you are going to get away without buying anything then expect their demanour to change completely, for them to be cold, and for you to suddenly be made very unwelcome indeed. Don't worry, your personal safety is never at risk, but you will be shown the door quickly. rankly, it is all a very unpleasant experience.

Credit cards/ ATM
Thailand is one of the worst places in the world for credit card fraud. You give you credit card to a vendor and they somehow either take a copy of it or do something or other and then they can go on to run up huge bills. Obviously when you get your bill back home you will be able to successfully challenge it and will not be liable for it but it is a hassle and inconvenience and is not going to endear you with your bank. To try and avoid being the victim of such a scam, do not let your credit card out of your sight when using it to make a purchase. This is one of those scams that seemed to be very common in the past but we seem to hear less and less about it these days.

Personally I am less concerned about credit card fraud than I am ATM fraud. Just as in the West the ATM machines at some banks are tampered with so that when you insert your card into the machine it is retained, or the number is read, and can be used by the criminal later. One of the big problems of ATM fraud in Thailand, at least if you are a Thai bank account holder, is that the banks do not just automatically write the fraud off and re-imburse you for how much was lost. Oh no, not at all, you are now in a fight to get that money back. There have been numerous stories in the press over the years about unlucky people who have lost serious amounts to ATM fraud and had a fight to get it back, so to speak.

Drugs
There are some tuktuk drivers and other Thais, especially in the backpacker areas, like Khao San Road, on Ko Phangnan and up in the far north, who will offer to provide drugs for you. But what may follow is the police knocking on your guesthouse door to bust your ass because they have been tipped off by Mr. Tuktuk Driver! Now Mr. Tuktuk didn't do this because he doesn't like farangs - in fact he loves them - but because he'll be getting a very nice cut of the money that you have to expend to pay off the cops to keep your virgin ass out of prison!

Closed tourist attractions
Some of the Thais in the tourist industry have become jaded dealing with foreigners day in day out and all of the cultural nuances that go with it. While most Thais that you meet will be friendly, there are some rogues out there who think nothing of scamming the foreigner. With this in mind, you need to be aware of anyone that appears too friendly without a reason which is hard to do as Thais are extremely nice people. If the chambermaid in the hotel is friendly then that is to be expected but if a stranger approaches you in a public place and seems too nice without a valid reason, you have reason to be cautious.

One scam that has been around for many moons is for a well dressed Thai lingering near the entrance to a popular tourist attraction to tell you that that particular tourist attraction is closed that day. Wat Po and Jim Thompson's House are two popular venues for these scammers but it can occur anywhere. Basically, as you approach the destination, a well dressed Thai will come up to you and tell you that due to <insert some bullS*$# reason> the said attraction is closed. He will then try and steer you in the direction of some venue for which he will get a commission such as a duty free store, gem shop etc - in much the same way the tuktuk drivers and taxi drivers do.

Tourist Pricing
It is a sad fact that in Thailand dual pricing is very much present and tourists are the targets of the inflated prices. At many places from national parks to tourist attractions and even to some restaurants there are two sets of prices, one set for the Thais, and another for foreigners. Sometimes the price difference is small, but at other times it is huge and can make the foreigner feel like they are being taken advantage of and ripped off.

To give you a few tangible examples, at many national parks it costs Thais 20 baht to enter and foreigners 400 baht. Yes, you read that right, foreigners pay 20 times the price that Thais do! At the Ancient City to the east of Bangkok, foreigners pay 300 baht while and Thai national pay 100 baht. And at a small but popular Thai restaurant opposite Wat Arun on the Chao Praya River, most dishes cost Thais 25 baht whereas foreigners are charged 50 baht.


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barsie
post Mar 4 2009, 11:04 AM
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Just to add those are the traditional scams- as I say it's getting a lot more devious by all accounts.



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curt1591
post Mar 4 2009, 07:22 PM
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Almost all scams begin with a "friendly stranger" approaching with "friendly advice", whether it be a tuktuk driver, a well dressed gentleman, or a Uni student.

Personally, I doubt scams are becoming more prevalent; it might just seem like that due to a smaller number of tourist "targets".

On the dual pricing issue, it's even a sadder fact that most Thais are poor. It could also be that the price difference is to allow Thais, who otherwise couldn't afford it, access. I know this doesn't fit the theme of this post, but living here, I prefer to think like this.

I haven't been hit by dual pricing at any restaurants. But then, I don't go to many popular restaurants near popular tourist areas.

Thais almost always pay less at vendor stalls. Besides being perceived as less wealthy, they also read and speak the language, a great tool for understanding prices and getting better deals.

-----

If you are planning on a holiday, not just in Thailand, you might do well to keep your guard up. With the downturn in tourists, those who are still traveling are more likely to be targeted.




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garry001
post Mar 11 2009, 09:32 AM
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To Learn about the Scams in Bangkok visit http://www.bangkokscams.com/
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dannyoo
post May 5 2009, 12:39 PM
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Common sense is the main thing.
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ceejay77
post May 25 2009, 02:14 AM
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A little bit of desperation setting in for many Thais as the recession hits this brings out the worst in people my friend was mobbed by ladboys so just be streetwise by reading the replies above they are spot on.


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lunthom
post May 25 2009, 08:00 PM
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they do not only affect to the traveller that scams affect to Thai people also otherwise I think they are not the big problem if you be there you will know how do you handle them and every countries have 2 sides...bad & good...
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starlagurl
post Jun 5 2009, 08:55 AM
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Hmmm, yeah the pressure is certainly there, but if you never have time to go out and shop yourself, sometimes you feel like you have to buy something now or you will never find anything later. ESPECIALLY if you are on a tour with a tight schedule.


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