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Thailand forum

Tourists warned of Thailand airport scam

Posted by busylizzy on 20/7/2009 at 11:09

An article from the BBC News website:


Bangkok's showcase new international airport is no stranger to controversy.

Built between 2002 and 2006, under the governments of then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the opening date was repeatedly delayed.

It has been dogged by allegations of corruption, as well as criticism of the design and poor quality of construction.

Then, at the end of last year, the airport was shut down for a week after being occupied by anti-government protesters.

Now new allegations have been made that a number of passengers are being detained every month in the duty free area on suspicion of shoplifting, and then held by the police until they pay large sums of money to buy their freedom.

Full article is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8154497.stm

#1 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by MADMAC on 20/7/2009 at 11:44

"Now new allegations have been made that a number of passengers are being detained every month in the duty free area on suspicion of shoplifting, and then held by the police until they pay large sums of money to buy their freedom."

This had better not be true - One reason Thailand is a serious tourist destination is people feel pretty safe here. You take that away, and things will get worse than they already are.

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


Posted by smash on 20/7/2009 at 12:00

Thai cops scare me - was once a smoker and used to be so paranoid I'd get caught dropping my ciggy on the ground! Saw heaps of Thai's do it... Parter got busted and taken to an ATM. Lucky I had the card with the money and his one was an unactivated back up which kept declining. Hahaha. He only lost 280 baht or thereabouts.

#3 smash has been a member since 21/6/2009. Posts: 162

Posted by somtam2000 on 20/7/2009 at 12:29 admin

The obvious question that Jonathan Head should have asked in that BBC story was to ask Xi Lin what it was that she did pick up off the shelf and put in her handbag.

In the KingPower vid, you can clearly see her picking something up, off a store shelf, and putting it in her bag. News reports at the time said the wallet was subsequently found in a rubbish bin nearby. So how did it get from her handbag to the rubbish bin?

While this obviously doesn't excuse the cops and other assorted scammers ripping them off, it does put a different light on matters.

This case was also touched on in this thread.

Agree with smash re the smoking fines -- for a while that was completely mental in Bangkok.

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Posted by MADMAC on 20/7/2009 at 12:52

I didn't read the attached article - it made it sound as if this was a scam being run on a lot of people - not a one off.

"Thai cops scare me - was once a smoker and used to be so paranoid I'd get caught dropping my ciggy on the ground! Saw heaps of Thai's do it... Parter got busted and taken to an ATM. Lucky I had the card with the money and his one was an unactivated back up which kept declining. Hahaha. He only lost 280 baht or thereabouts."

They don't scare me at all. I have lived here for two years and all of my experiences with the Thai police have been positive.

Honetly I have been pulled over on my motorcycle when I was probably drinking more than I should have. I could easily have been cited, or shaken down... never happened. I was always let go with a warning. I have never paid the Thai police a single baht.

Another expat here drove his pickup into a ditch. He was blind drunk. Two Thai men came over to help him get it out, but they couldn't move it. Along came the police - the five of them managed to free the pickup. My friend thanked all profusely, got in his truck, and as he was driving away he heard one of the cops say "falang Mau."

#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by busylizzy on 20/7/2009 at 13:12

Apologies Somtam - I didn't see the other thread where this has been discussed. Pls feel free to remove it, or merge comments into the other one.

The story reminds me of a visit to Mexico. It's a long story, but we intended to drive to the border, park the car, then walk across into Tijuana to get a bus to Rosarito. I missed the turn off and we ended up on the Mexican side by mistake. My intention was to turn around and skeedaddle back to the US side. Within 200 meters of the border though, a mexican cop pulled us over - and the calamity of errors started.

Firstly, I was intending to drive in Mexico, so decided to leave my licence behind when I was switching wallets. A very stupid blonde moment because I had to drive from LA to the border, so needed my licence for that. Doh!

The car was a rental car in the name of my boss (I was working in LA for a stint at the time). He had the rental car papers. And I had the understanding that you needed special insurance to take a rental car into Mexico and I didn't have it. (Remember, I didn't intend on driving across anyhow).

So.. the cop was going to have a field day with us with all my ‘offences’. And because I knew I was in the wrong on a few technicalities, I knew I would have a hard talking my way out of anything. He 'offered' an instant fine of about $200USD - or we could go to court the next week. Bugger!

We pleaded poverty saying that we only had $100 between us. He offered to drive us to an ATM - but we said we didn't have a card. His ‘supervisor’ happened to be riding by, and they had discussion in Spanish, which I couldn’t understand. The ‘supervisor’ agreed that to let us off for $100. We handed over our money, he let us drive away. We returned the car to the other side of the border, walked across, carrying on with our plans (grumbling all the way about how we had been ripped off).

After telling some stall owners that we didn't have any money to spend due to the corrupt police, we were encouraged to report it to the Tourism Police, who in turn, sent us to the local police station.

We had a long and friendly chat with the 'very sympathetic' Chief at the station. I asked if they had photos of their cops,and he did. We looked through, found the corrupt cop. The Chief made a few phone calls to track the cop down. He was apparently found, 'confessed', and our money was magically returned to us about an hour later.

What did we do with the money that we got back? We blew some on a margherita or two - and spent the rest on nice pottery at the stall owned by the guy that suggested we report the 'theft' in the first place!

It was a bizarre weekend, it reeked of corruption - but it made an interesting story for us to relive years later.

(Somtam - this was the story I was thinking of telling on the 'have you ever been robbed?' competition thread - but didn't think it would count!!

Anyhow - that's a long-winded digression - and absolutely nothing to do with Thailand!! But it was a quiet moment at work… ;-/

#6 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by sayadian on 20/7/2009 at 14:43

Somtam says
'In the KingPower vid, you can clearly see her picking something up, off a store shelf, and putting it in her bag.'

Whilst she may have been guilty or not and certainly there are questions which need answers the problem now for Thailand is the perception the world is getting.
I know Thailand very well,spend a great deal of time there and over the years I have noticed a marked difference in the general attitude to foreigners.In the 80's there was a constant television campaign to encourage the Thai people to make foreigners welcome and it paid off.The Thai were told, tourists are good for Thailand they bring in money.
Nowadays the intense nationalism is positively anti-foreigner and as a result farang are seen as fair game.
You are well-travelled and obviousy know Thailand but try to imagine what it must be like for a family in Australia or UK choosing an 'exotic' destination to holiday for the first time.
Airport hijacks, street fighting, scams all reported in the western press. Would you choose Thailand?

#7 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 20/7/2009 at 18:25

"You are well-travelled and obviousy know Thailand but try to imagine what it must be like for a family in Australia or UK choosing an 'exotic' destination to holiday for the first time.
Airport hijacks, street fighting, scams all reported in the western press. Would you choose Thailand?"

I agree the perception issue is a problem, but the reality is a lot of people come here and the vast majority have no problems. Indeed many come back again and again.

#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


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