A Litany of Scams: Thailand

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First published 11th November, 2008

To truly get inside the mind of an accomplished scammer you must first serve yourself up as a delectable juicy morsel. So thorough is my ability to get served, I now have a list of warnings and common scams operating in South East Asia to share with you. Please do not feel pity. My intentions were always noble and I have done a fine job in redistributing my wealth to others.

The truly astounding fact is that in most cases we had prior knowledge of 90% of these swindles before we left home. Travelling long distances, queuing, disturbed sleep and a liver struggling to process last nights bar top frolics can all exacerbate ones ability to be taken for ride.

These scams have all been tasted and tested throughout our trip through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. However I suspect that similar currency hijacking exists throughout our known galaxy so sit back, enjoy and hold on to your wallet.

The pushy Bangkok travel agent
Bangkok is the gateway for most people visiting South East Asia. The travel agents in particular have a really bad reputation. I am sure there are some good ones out there -- we just didn't find any.

We walked into the travel agent wanting just two tickets to Ko Samui. But in the space of half an hour we managed to sign ourselves up for 20 days of accommodation, travel and sundries. Our itinerary was scribbled on a never-to-be-seen-again piece of paper. We received our tickets the next day in a series of envelopes. Religious holidays were cited as an excuse why we would find it hard to find accommodation without our agents help. By a rough calculation we paid twice the list price on every single item, though we couldn't reconcile correctly because we received no itemised account. Conveniently our travel agent had gone home on a holiday the next day when we collected our tickets. Unseen Travel Bangkok -- why could you not live up to your name?

Bangkok Tuk Tuk
By all means indulge in the delights of a tuk tuk, they are a lot of fun. But if you're going to do some serious shopping or need to be somewhere in a hurry take a taxi or learn public transport. On our second visit to Bangkok we learned very quickly that if the tuk tuk driver knows you're shopping they'll invariably try to take you to a friend's shop along on the way. They get petrol vouchers and all manner of incentives for doing this. We found taxis cheaper and faster because they tend to go straight to your destination with very little conversation and very little fuss.

Your friendly tuk tuk driver

Island Travel
After a ferry ride which often will be on the back of a twelve hour bus ride all one wants to do is get to accommodation. In general the islands are very small. It does not take an hour to get anywhere and the roads are perfectly adequate for moderately fast travel. You will be sharing your trip with other travellers. Negotiate as a group if you can and wait till you get off your ferry. There will be no shortage of people willing to help. Confidence men actually operate on the ferrys taking money from travellers and take a nice cut by being the nice guys in the middle. It's amazing what a polo shirt can do to make someone look semi official.

Island scenery in southern Thailand

Border Crossings
Border crossings are particularly bountiful for the practised grifter. I have the following bullet points to make these relatively painless.

» Know how much the visa costs
» Have plenty of passport photos ready
» Don't get any currency changed by a helpful stranger.
» Do not believe a word about a lack of ATMs, financial services or a regular power supply in your intended destination.
» Do not accept help from anyone who is not behind a counter or is part of your tour party.
» Know your exchange rates, have them written down.

In addition, be particularly wary in the immediate vicinity of a border crossing. You are most likely to be preyed upon around borders.

Buying gems in Thailand
(Editor's note) Daniel McConnell was so busy redistributing his wealth to tuk tuk drivers, travel agents, ferry touts, border scam artists and other riff raff that he missed the opportunity to participate in the most infamous of Thai scams -- the Gems scam. There's one thousand and one ways to cook up this scam, but in general, a tourist jumps in a tuk tuk planning to go to nearby tourist attraction and ends up in a gem store, often signing over tens of thousands (of dollars -- not baht) buying what turns out to be coloured glass. Are you a professional gem buyer or a professional tourist? Ask yourself that question before agreeing to enter the gem store.

Next week we will dip our toes into Laos and Vietnam.

Daniel McConnell is a keen writer who used Travelfish extensively whilst preparing for and during a three month trip of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia with his wife. A litany of scams is an informative and sometimes humorous look at some things to look out for whilst travelling in this part of the world. Let the traveller beware!

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Read 39 comment(s)

  • Yes I've just been scammed in Bangkok. On my first jet-lagged day in Bangkok I ended up being talked into taking a tour of the city in a tuk tuk for what I now know to be a really cheap price. I was taken to a fairly average temple and then to a tailor shop. I ended up being talked into getting a suit made. The fabric was high quality and the sales pitch was very hard sell, so I ended up paying a high price for what turns out to be a fairly poorly made suit that is worth probably half what I paid for it. The tailor shop name is Sup Fashion on Tanon Lanluang. AVOID THIS PLACE.

    I was then taken to a jeweller's shop and a high priced souvenir outlet and gem factory, but luckily didn't spend any money at either place. The most bizarre thing is that at every non-shopping place we visited apparently complete strangers would talk up the next stop on the tuk tuk tour. At the first temple the man who was looking after the temple told me that Thai fashion was the best because it was all hand made and that they had a special on today - last day of some promotion for the lunar new year. At the second temple I ran into a british man who told me he'd just bought gems and does it every year to resell back home. The man at the gate was also telling me that it was the last year that foreigners could become members of jeweller's shops.

    So now I feel very foolish, but I hope that others don't fall into the same trap.

    Posted by shav00 on 4th February, 2009

  • I had problems on several occasions with bar/restaurant places trying to double charge me on food and beer in Chiang Mai. One is on Moon Muang with a lit up Jim Beam Gibson style guitar sign on a corner with several table and chair sets outside. I paid for one beer to the waitress who brought and just one minute later, another waitress attempts to charge me again. And so the argument ensued. I won that time.

    Another is a German restaurant near the Kalare night market and next to an English and Belgium restaurant. I ordered a hefewiezen beer at the German restaurant and in the course of 5 minutes was approached by 5 pushy rude young Thai ladies in dirndl dresses demanding a food order when I was still trying to read page 1 of the menu. I politely told all of them I needed more time and then a young Thai man approached me and said, "You order food now or you check bin or you see police." This was way out of place and told them so, but they just said, "You check bin or see police." They brought out a bill for 198 baht when the 1 beer was supposed to be 120 baht! I pointed this out, but the Thai guy got in my face and way to block me and said, "check bin or police." I paid him the money, but told him he was wrong and will suffer bad karma and bad luck from misbehaving and doing me wrong. He still tried to block my exit, but I just walked, pushing him aside, and said, "kawp poon cup." He uttered something like threats as I walked away.

    In the course of seconds as an evening gets older, Thailand goes from the land of smiles to the land of scams. Be careful.

    Many internet shops in Chiang Mai and Bangkok tried to over charge me numerous times in the course of a month long trip. This was my 3rd time to LOS and will be my last. I won't be returning to LOS as some Thai are taking greed to extremes much more than just 1 year ago. I would reckon many are seeing a pinch in the downturn leading them to treat what tourists their are pretty badly. They just want our money, no if's, ands, or buts about it.

    Posted by Scott on 17th February, 2009

  • These are the places that i consider the worst places to get scammed in ThailandI speak thai so i know what the going rates should be on everything from taxi,s to hotels. Koh Samui or any islands in the group by far the worst,Bangkok ,Chang Mai, Pattaya,just down right dangerous, Pai, Phuket,Krabi, really anywhere there are large numbers of tourists,your going to get scammed. Believe me i,ve heard them all. As far as restaurants go always ask to see a menu ,if they don,t have one don,t be afraid to ask. Most all local food should on the average never be more than 25 or 30 baht. If you would like more advice feel free to contact me about anywhere in thailand at homelessinalaska@yahoo.com

    Posted by jamesspignesi on 3rd March, 2009

  • Warning: Unseen travel agent Bangkok

    We arranged our trip trouhg tahiland in November/december 2008.It was high season, so UNSEEN said it was wise to book transport and accommodation in advamce.
    1. they did'nt book transport in advance
    2. they scharged us at least twice/three times the price for transport
    3. we agreed upon a price for guesthouses and then tehy put us in guesthouses of half or one third of the price
    So their profit margin is about 200%
    In Lopburi they put us in a "guesthouse"{Baan Monkey guesthouse} which don't deserve that name. UNSEEN charged us for 1000BAHT and it was worth at the most 200 BAHT!We refused to stay there. To our complaints they reacted very crude.
    UNSEEN is'nt a travel agent, it's a money maker!

    Posted by roskott on 22nd April, 2009

  • Photos of the scammers at the Grand palace.
    Thailand Tourist Mafia.

    Posted by cs on 28th April, 2009

  • When asked if it's your first time in Thailand, never say yes and always say you've visited a few times..especially to travel agents in Bangkok, taxi, motorbike taxi and tuk tuk drivers.Sorry to say it but lying is essential at times.I was charged at least double the price for a train/ferry from Bangkok to Koh Samui. For a couple of baht more I could have bought a plane ticket and got there in an hour instead of the long overnight trip.Thai greeting with head lowered always helps too.Let it be a habit.Always remember your manners and be respectful..it'll be reciprocated and at least if you are ripped off it'll be more pleasant! Learn the basics of the language overnight if you can pick on someone willing like I did..the day to day how are yous, how much, pleases and thankyous etc and dont forget the numbers for bartering! Consider buying a book before you leave no matter how long your stay is.. 'English-Thai The fun way to learn the language' ISBN No.9-7427-2222-6 It's easy.Have a good trip.

    Posted by Lisa on 5th May, 2009

  • I met a lady at Patong beach in Phuket. Told me she'd visited a large gem shop and the staff were very nice. They offered to clean her diamond engagement ring for free. They even drove her back home and offered to deliver her ring all cleaned to her hotel. I said, it must have been a big diamond. She kept smiling for about another minute. C'mon, she almost deserved it.
    Let's face it, you don't have to leave your common sense at home when you travel.

    Posted by Richard Malone on 17th June, 2009

  • The only scam I had was, upon arriving at the Bunglumpoo area of Bangkok on an airport bus service, was after being accousted by tuk-tuk drivers. Asking where I was staying, I said the name of the place, which was in Khaosan Rood. One driver said it was a km away, I'd need a tuk-tuk (I had a suitcase with me). Little did I know it was little more than 100m away, the road just behind me. I asked the price, he said 150baht. He took me around the block, and dropped me at the other end of the road, saying he couldnt drop me outside the place. I was actually somewhwat further away from the inn than when I got off the bus, and 140 baht in a taxi back home (New Zeland) would have cost less for the distance travelled!

    But on the other end of the scale, another tuk-tuk driver took me downtown and back, one hour or so for 50 baht. I willingly gave him 100 and bought him a can of coke.

    Posted by Paul Jeffery on 9th August, 2009

  • It was dead easy to catch the bus in Bangkok and a fraction of the price of a Taxi/tuk-tuk. The public water taxis are cheap and interesting too. The taxis that hang around the doors of the hotels are a rip off.

    Posted by chris murrell on 23rd September, 2009

  • Brothers/Sisters:

    Has/is Thailand really become such a hellhole ?

    I was gonna take 2-3 unpaid weeks off work to make a 1st visit with an eye towards moving there for good at some point...but all the bad press about the scams, terrorism, weak police, weak government, instability, abuse of animals, low level of service, the 3rd world nonsese, the fact the Thai's seem like a bunch of shallow ignorant retarded children make me wonder...

    I was hoping to live somewhere cheaper, have an easier time finding a girlfriend/wife, being amongst more friendlier/chill people (than in the USA), the Buddhist culture, beaches, less stress, experience more community, etc, etc.

    Posted by dave scott on 4th October, 2009

  • We were also victims of the Sup Fashions scam, but upon talking to others back home who had been to Thailand and had custom made suits, we realized that we had been taken before giving the whole amount to the venerable "Mr. Jack". When Sup's goon picked us up at our hotel the day after put down a deposit, we went along with him, intending to ask for most of our deposit back as we knew we had been scammed. Let's just say we did not get any money back, and to avoid being taken to the police as Mr. Jack threatened (Thais can turn on you in an instant if they are not happy with the way things are going) we shelled out an addidional 8000 baht "for costs" to leave it all behind us. In Canada, when you leave a deposit, it covers costs, yes?

    Avoid the "Thai Factory Tour" at all costs. And if a guy approaches you in a temple, you don't speak English.

    Posted by Jen and Alex on 14th November, 2009

  • On my 4th trip to Thailand i was ripped off by a scam. I have always heard of scams in Thailand but always thought it was just people being paranoid as i had never been ripped off up till my 4th trip. Upon arriving in Surit thani after a 8hour Van ride from Penang we were dropped off at the usual small shop that serves food, drinks and travel tickets..... To be told that the boat to Koh phangan we had tickets for was a "slow boat" and wouldnt be leaving for 3 hours but if we would like to pay extra they would issue us with tickets for the "fast boat" that was leaving in a hour and we would be relaxing on the island before the slow boat even left the mainland.... Ofcourse after 8 hours crammed into a van this sounds grat so we all go with the deal. 10 mins later the best bus iv ever been on in Thailand turned up to pick us up and take us the 60km or so to Bandon where the boats leave from. The driver had another adult male with him and a young 12-14 yearold boy with him too. The driver then proceded to drive to Bandon without touching the accalerator!!! We traveled at about 20-30 kmh on the open roads which ofcourse made us miss the boat we had paid extra for.... I was starting to get worried at the speed we were doing and stopping in small towns along the way so i kept a look out the windows and got someone on the other side of the bus to look out theirs to makesure no one got into the baggage compartments while we aere stopped etc. Everyone on the bus were getting really Pi%&ed off by now and knew we had been scammed. No one noticed the young boy dissapear during the drive though...... On arrival at the bandon pier we all got our bags and quickly took pics and vids of the bus and driver etc for evidence. I was almost run over as i was filming through the front window. The driver gunned it and almost took me out!! I smashed his mirror on the way past and then raced upto the police office to make a complaint but they wernt interested at all and said the boat we had originaly got tickets for was about to leave and we will miss it if we dont leave now. So we all got on the ferry and dispersed and after a couple of singhas started relaxing abit and glad to be on the way to KPG for my 3rd trip there. I went into my bag to get my phone that had a picture of my mother eatting huge chilli prawns in KL who had just passed away on it to quickly find out it was gone and so was everything i had bought so far on my trip along with alot of my other kit!!!! THAT LITTLE BASTARD BOY!!!! i went and found others who had been on the bus and htey had a look to find they had been ripped off too!!! So sure enough... the old little boy climbing through the luggage compartment scam is alive and kicking in the land of smiles and i will never go back again! BEWARE

    Posted by Terrence Seymour on 6th December, 2009

  • Thai Police have a network of scammers deployed all over Bangkok every morning. They are intent on defrauding every foreigner they meet.
    photos here:

    Posted by ClubSiam on 25th December, 2009

  • We walked past a market near Kho San road where the market seller was selling items such as backpacker brochures (which were free), half used toiletries, single condoms, and worst of all - a used tooth brush!!!! We couldn't believe it, obviously been stolen from a backpacker. Other market stalls near by also sold a lot of second hand clothes that looked like they had belonged to travelers. How do these people think they can steal and then sell these items??

    Posted by Tracey on 3rd February, 2010

  • We were victims of a Royal Fashion scam in Chiang Mai where co-incidently 3 different friendly strangers at different tourist locations throughout Chiang Mai advised us, by marking on our maps places to go, such as avoid the tourist markets and go to the local markets instead, go see the flower show (which didn't exist) and different temples. They also all advised us to go to Royal Fashion Tailors in Chiang Mai for the suits we wanted to get. It was our first day and we were still jetlagged, so we were fooled into thinking that 3 independent people cannot be wrong, and this must be a good place to go to. One even told us what price to expect to pay - same for foreigners and Thai's alike - we later realised this price was totally extortionate and way above the price we should have paid. We walked into Royal Fashion and told them we didn't want to buy today, only look and before I knew it my boyfriend was being measured up before we even had a chance to ask "how much?" As a result, we had many unpleasant experiences for fittings, they tried to sell us something else each time we went for a fitting, the suits and dresses I ordered were nothing like the ones in the brochure and were very poorly made and ill fitting (one dress in particular was nothing at all like the one in the brochure and they kept trying to convince me that I didn't want it like the one in the brochure, they would not make any more changes towards the end, even though I kept telling them the sleeves were too long etc, they made out they had changed it, but they were still the same fit, they did not give me the silk scarves they had promised me at the end and kept trying to take us on a factory tour for umbrella's and shoes. They insisted we pay upfront and claimed my credit card wasn't working so they could ask for my payment in cash, they could even take me to the ATM! (I bet they could, and look over my shoulder for my pin number no doubt too after having got my credit card details swiped). We now realise after reading other blogs that other people have been approached by these "friendly strangers" in order to guide them towards Royal Fashion Tailors. The hotspots we got trapped are Wat Phra Singh, a local pretending to be from Bangkok, the Police Commission house - by someone pretending to be an important traffic police worker who was high up and even had a niece in Melbourne (we are from Australia) and a man and his daughter (who happened to be wearing a waistcoat made by coincidently Royal Fashion themselves by the moat where the fish are fed near Thae Pae Gate. It wasn't until now that we realise how slick these co-incidences were. Every time we went in to Royal Fashion Tailors we had a sick feeling that we felt that we were being scammed. When we enquired on postage, the salesman's eye's lit up, they tried to tell us we had 7kg and that it would cost over $300. We declined this offer and when we got back to the guesthouse we were staying in, we weighed our severely overpriced purchases and they only weighed in at 6kg, surprise surprise and postage for that would never amount to what they had quoted us.

    Royal Fashion Tailors in Chiang Mai is run by two very smooth, slick Indians, who claim to be brothers, do not trust Royal Fashion Tailors in Chiang Mai on Chang Moi Road, they will overcharge you for second rate material, and I am still expecting my credit card to come through with a charge where they ran my card through and claimed it did not work because I need a pin number not a signature.

    I share this as I do not want others to be tricked in the same way we were, these con artists need to be stopped.

    Posted by Tracey on 3rd February, 2010

  • New forum for Thailand related scams.

    Posted by thaiscams on 24th February, 2010

  • Don't forget the rather serious scam in the duty-free shops in the Bangkok Airport.

    The clerks will slip a small item -- perhaps a small vial of perfume or a pack of cigarettes -- into the bag with your purchases at the check-out. Many travelers assume that this is a small thank-you bonus gift, but it's a setup. The police, participants in the scam, are waiting just outside the duty-free shop to arrest the unwary customer for "shop-lifting" the extra item. Of course, handing over a large bribe makes the charge disappear, but perhaps not in time to catch one's flight.

    BBC news has done several stories on this scam, and it continues to be a problem. My advice: if you do buy anything at the duty-free shops, watch the clerks very carefully and do NOT allow them to place anything in the bag that you have not paid for!

    Posted by Amanda Coffin on 10th March, 2010

  • Two years ago in Chiang Mai, a friend and I took a taxi tour of the handicraft villages just outside the city. We negotiated the price and everything was fair. But on the way back to the city our driver insisted we stop at an Indian carpet store because he could get some gas coupons for free from the owners if we paid a visit.

    We certainly had no intentions of buying any carpets but visited the store to help out the driver. What the heck anyway ... no charge to look and we weren't in a hurry. I was interested in seeing what they had in the way of silk carpets and the owners obligingly dragged some out for me to look at. Having a fair knowledge of silk carpets from many trips to the Middle East I asked a few simple questions aobut the styles and number of knots per square centimetre, etc. (things a carpet buyer would ask).

    The Indian owners gave me a few bogus answers to my questions, indicating to me that they didn't have a clue about silk carpets. We politely told them we had to leave but they actually had LOCKED the door and stated we could not leave unless we bought something - anything - like maybe a teapot. I informed them that I would soon be breaking the glass on the door if they didn't let us out. The driver apparently woke up and saw what was happening and came to the door. We were shoved and yelled at about how we "had wasted their time" and how now they had to put all the carpets away, and how we had created so much work for them to do. Finally they did open the door and told us to NEVER COME BACK (like we would).

    Moral of the story: don't get sucked into the gas coupon spiel.

    Posted by Robert in Montreal on 31st March, 2010

  • Please beware the scratch card scams in Thailand and Hong Kong. My friends and I encountered one in Phuket that was using white South Africans as their scratch card distributors. There tempt you with a free prize. They use intense sales tactics to pressure you into signing up for their holiday clubs. If you refuse, it will become a rude, intense 180 degree flip of hospitality. Don't ever be lured in with free drinks! If anyone ever asks you if you speak English, German, or Swedish, say No. It is usually not for a good reason.

    Posted by Brenda on 10th April, 2010

  • I was also a victim of Royal Fashions. The dress I ordered was NOT like the one in the picture, even though they assured me that they could make it that way. After the dress was made I complained and they told me, "Well, it's a custom dress, we can't copy it EXACTLY."

    I am so angry, the seams on the clothes were sloppily done and they tried to tell me that it would look fine after pressing. The little belt they made for the dress (which did not look like the picture either) was dirty.

    The last fitting I had, the guy had the nerve to tell me I should go to the "Handicrafts market." Fortunately I'd heard about this scam and told him I hated handicrafts and thought that cheap Thai crap was ugly.

    He also tried to charge me for "the balance" when I went to pick everything up. They had told me I'd paid in full when I'd ordered the stuff.

    I found out from my hostel that I'd been ripped off, paid way too much for what I got, and the clothes really aren't great quality. Stay away from Royal Fashions on Chang Moi road!

    Posted by Michelle Leigh on 5th May, 2010

  • Royal Fashion Tailors in Chiang Mai is a complete scam. Thankfully I read Tracey's post above before getting completely screwed.
    My story is much the same. It was our first day in Chiang Mai after several days of pleasant, trustworthy interactions with the locals on Samui and Ko Tao. There were so many red flags it was a joke, so I take full blame for being scammed. Long story short, they plant people around the tourist areas who will try to befriend you and regale you with stories and then suggest you purchase a fine silk dress for your girlfriend or a cashmere suit for yourself, but they don't actually offer to take you anywhere or push you to buy anything. That is the key to their scam. The first guy that approached us was very convincing and not at all pushy. He drew on our map to point out the sights to see, etc. That lead us right into another guy we struck up conversation by claiming he was the architect of the Wat we were visiting. He looked at our map and inquired about the writing. When we told him about the previous gentleman that had given us directions to Royal Fashion, he excitedly told us it was the best place and gave us many thumbs up.
    In our initial visit to the store, there were two British women excitedly looking through materials and getting fitted for dresses. It made the place seem acceptable even though the skeezy salesman had a nasty mullet, brown chicklet teeth and a very seedy manner. The salesman also did the burn test on swaths of cashmere vs. swaths of cheap polyester to show us the difference in material (why he had any cheap material should have been a big red flag).
    The seedy salesman pushed for a sale that day and said I had to take measurements right then in order for them to make the suit. He also demanded cash payment since he was giving me such a good deal and didn't want to pay the credit card fee. By the time I left, I had given him 2000 Baht down payment (he had asked for 5000). It all happened so fast, I felt very uneasy about it. After I read Tracey's post, I went back for the fitting and they had blatantly pulled a bait and switch with the material. They used an itchy, cheap, polyester material in place of the cashmere swath I was shown. He denied my accusation and offered to cut the material to do another burn test, which I asked him to do. It smelled like chemicals, not hair, further proving my objection. I tried the pants on just for shits and giggles and they were so tight I could have shredded them with one squat. We tried to take some ties and get out of the store with at least that, but the scumbag salesman became ornery and tried to physically block my girlfriend and I from leaving the store. At that point we just bullied past him (he's a pipsqueak Indian with a mullet)and took off. He got away with 2000 Baht, but it's better than the 8,500 I was going to pay for "100% cashmere suit with 100% Lanna silk tie). I take full blame in ignoring the many red flags, but feel it's important to share my story and to thank Tracey and others for sharing theirs.

    Posted by Jeff on 14th June, 2010

  • Every morning at 9AM the Thai Tourist Mafia blanket the tourist/hotel/shopping districts with a network of well dressed, english speaking con artists.
    They work in teams of 2 or 3 and are positioned near the entrance to tourist sites, outside hotels, shopping centers, on the BTS skywalks, MRT stations, tourist information booths, busy corners, temples, museums, and shopping centers.
    They pose as helpful, friendly strangers and strike up conversations with novice tourists.
    Their goal? To lie to and defraud every tourist they meet.
    They are participating in a variety of scams, including the Thai Gem Scam.

    I call them the Thai Tourist Mafia.

    Tourists walking around town are confronted by these people all day long.
    They are relentless and apparently protected as they work in plain view of Police Boxes, Security Guards and Managers of these facilities.
    A nice lady at the Tourist Authority tells me they are cooperating with the Police....and are dangerous. (Every taxi and Tuk Tuk in the tourist areas are also working with these scammers, attempting to deliver our visitors into the hands of these thugs.)

    This has been going on for years and years.... they are ruining thousands and thousands of vacations.

    A search on the internet will show they doing great harm to Thailand's reputation as a safe, friendly destination.

    I passed this information to the Tourist Authority, Tourist Assistance Center and Tourist Police 3 years ago. No reply.

    Below are photos of Thai Tourist Mafia at work:

    Tourist Mafia, Wireless Road:
    (notice that they come and go from the police box)

    Central World Shrine:
    (Central World security hang out with them!)

    Grand Palace:
    (see them hang out with Palace Guards)

    Erawan Shrine:
    (notice the police box and TAT booth across the street)
    This one sits on a police bike:

    Silom Road:
    (Dusit Thani, MRT, BTS, Naritiwat Rd., TAT Booth)
    Notice they operate in front of Dusit Thani, MRT Police. 
    The Naritiwat Rd. Police Box has a birds eye view too.)

    Suriwong Rd:
    (In front of Montien Hotel and Jim Thompson Store.
    Both places have a Police Box across the road. Police watch these same people every day defrauding tourists.)

    Soi 18:
    (Intercepting tourists that stay at Hotels down this Soi.)

    Siam Center:

    Criminals, participating with the Tourist Mafia, posing as taxi drivers "own" the space in front of every tourist hotel.
    (They deliver tourists to the Police owned scams.
    Never use a taxi "parked" in front of a hotel.)

    Posted by K Kleber on 25th June, 2010

  • Absolute Tailor, Ao Nang Thailand, http://www.absolutetailor.com/page1.html is a scam. I had suits made there, paid for them, and even went to the post office with the tailor, Mr. Baei, but he had "forgotten" some of the shirts. I was catching a flight and didn't have time to go back with him to get the clothing. He promised he would send my clothing, but never did. I gave him $500 and may as well have been robbed by him because I will never see the suits I paid for.

    Don't go to Absolute Tailor in Ao Nang, Thailand, it is a SCAM.

    Posted by Jeff on 14th September, 2010

  • And why would they maximize their potential for earnings. McDonald's do it and we do not blink an eye. I have know problem with the tour guide taken me to his friend shop and if he gets a kickback good and well. When you consider that these people earn often nothing unless they receive a kickback you might reconsider your thoughts that they are pushy advances and scamming rather than just someone trying to make a buck.

    Posted by Danny on 3rd December, 2010

  • I have travelled a bit in Asia and Africa before and always been fortunate enough to avoid a lot of scams. This one was almost a crime, though. Walking to the Royal Palace in BKK a lady (or rather a group of women)approached me with a little bag of corns (for birds). I said "no thanks" but she insisted, trying to put it in my rucksack and finally grabbed my hand, put the corn there and made me throw the corn on the street. Which then became full of pigeons. I got a bad feeling and tried to figure out how to escape. There was a fence on one side of the road, heavy traffic on the other, loads of birds in front of me and the gang of women behind. The lady politely asked me to throw three times "for luck".I turned around (also to protect my rucksack) and threw the corn there, which also gave me some space to walk forward. Then she asked for 200 bath, which I wouldn't pay and the woman got really aggressive and scary, grabbing my arm and trying to push me into the fence. I insisted not to pay and somehow got out of her grip. All of a sudden it stopped. The gang of women just stopped and turned away.
    I still get anxious when I think of it,though it could have turned out even nastier! Be aware!

    Posted by Marianne on 12th March, 2011

  • This is just a short video I stumbled upon the other day, definitely worth watching!!

    CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Thailand jet ski scam exposed!

    Posted by CaptainPlatypus on 20th March, 2011

  • The Thai Police have a network of scammers deployed all over bangkok every morning.
    Their goal; is to intercept and defraud every tourist they meet.
    Photos here:



    Posted by Kevin K on 20th March, 2011

  • Beware thai guys working at hostels who ask to be your boyfriend. Seems like common sense, but they're really good players - hooking up with multiple girls while keeping a steady gf, and making sure you spend your money to come back - just so they can break up with you once you leave and not face the consequences. Should've known better and trusted first impressions!

    Never fall, but met a REALLY nice thai guy working at the top hostel in Thailand. He showed me pictures of his family, told me about past relationships, and had even visited Sweden and carried on a relationship there - but "missed Thailand" - so he returned. I should've relied on my suspicions, but this guy was good. He was the best I've ever been treated, and when I went back to visit, his friends and co-workers told me how real it was.

    A few days after I left, he e-mailed me saying how bad of a boyfriend he was, how he didn't tell me how beautiful I was enough. The girl who arrived during my visit, is now his girlfriend, and they're moving in together. She's giving up what she has to move and be with him. He took for granted all the sacrifices I made, and I was a fool spending all the money I had to go visit.

    "I love you" doesn't mean a thing to these thai guys, and what's more is they're sweet and kind individuals who mean what they say, but get side tracked for whichever tourist becomes sexually available next.

    Don't slip, don't slide, and don't give into the hope that it's for real. It's not......and you'll soon be replaced and out a LOT of money.

    Posted by H. Marie on 23rd May, 2011

  • Im not sure if its a scam - you get a taxi and the driver asks you if its ok to stop for petrol...obviously, while the taxi is being filled the meter continues ...in all honestly, it never adds up to that much (say 1 euro or about 40-50 thai baht)so im not sure if it would qualify as a scam....

    Posted by claude mangion on 24th May, 2011

  • I was recently in Phuket staying at quite the hostel. With no kitchen. And jacked food prices at the bar I should've turned away. The guys working there promote business with happy endings and its sickening to watch them luer in their female guests and play them while their other girls renew their VISAs. Once they leave they're in bed swooning the next guests to move to Thailand and return for a visit. My fiancee told me about this place, after paying a fee (set with the owner) to cover her a month while she took her TEFOL. Owner gave up her payed dorm room and refused to return her money. The only way to wrap your head around this "best" hostel is to truly examine the poor sluts that these thai guys cheat, tease, and sleep with who rate the place and are non the wiser to the american, and english ladies who call these 'happy ending' managers their boyfriends. At least most don't sacrafice their lives on these drunks. One formere employee even admitted - "sex sells. Keep the customer happy". By all means, when those poor ladies leave, "gf" title or not, living circumstances or not - thems players and thems scam artists taking you for all you got.

    Posted by Marlboro on 1st October, 2011

  • new scam, or isolated event?
    Caution Mike flight hotel near the walking street to get 150 meters (Pattaya, Thailand, August 2011)
    www.mikehotel.com/ 339 Mike Department Store Bldg: Pattaya City Chonburi 20260 Thailand.
    66 38 422222-9. FAX: 66 38 426444
    Every year (cella is 6 years old) I was in Pattaya in August month and I stay at the same hotel (MIKE HOTEL has 150 feet of the street walking street) me and my family, so two or three rooms three rooms this year because the family grew with my grandchildren. The hotel staff knows us very well and it is in general 25 to 28 days. That you located the situation and the geographical area we do not particularly trust the chests made available for a lot of good reason. my son was hiding his money in his bag about 1500 euros and 35,000 baht, well wrapped in a towel to hide his habit as he stole the 35,000 baht, but not the euro. We watched the video recordings at the reception and there are only two of the four maids who's back in the room. We call the police we are asking the proof of 35,000 baht currency were shown and it is done call on the field the cleaners to the police station in Pattaya it was 22 pm, but could do nothing because it is denying the facts of the police officer who was the tourist police as a translator told us that Anyway they argued that all of them. we had to leave the hotel the next morning course at the reception we were charged last night (no gifts, and if we {have more money to pay the hotel?}, this who we'll be prison.heureusement we do not put all our eggs in one basket) and a bonus as my wife had gone to look for another hotel with our room key in his pocket unintentionally It my be followed by the groom faiit behind me as I had told them that I would bring the key (we are not all dishonest [1 = 50 baht a key comparison which was stolen]) fortunately we all had the phone for My wife draws back the key (to tell you that I would have not let it become me the thief)
    If I made this post was for you warn of what awaits you at Mike Hotel for theft in any case, I noted that feelings among Thais vis a vis the tourists do not exist (not tourist! translation: maytchay naktongtiao rao tcheu BAHT-MAN may ?.
    They have stolen 35,000 baht may be = 850 euros in change, but I will put this post on every forum that deals directly or indirectly to the tourist

    Posted by geo on 4th October, 2011

  • We bought a return ticket to Koh Phangan for the Full moon party, at a at a travel agent on the side of the road in Patong beach, seemed legit. We got to the island but on our return the next day -PP services and Transfers. ( The company that organizes the taxi, bus and ferry to the island) made us pay 600 baht extra claiming that the travel agent only booked for us to travel to Phuket and not Phatong where we were picked up by. When we confronted them demanding that they sort it out with the travel agent, they become aggressive stating that its not their problem and if we want to get to our destination we would have to pay extra or be dropped off in Phuket, and find our own transport. So we decided to pay. When in the taxi talking to the our travelers which happened to have booked the same tour with different agents, we discovered that they had the same issue. Bottom line the travel agents did their job, but the con artist Jimmy (an indian)at PP Services and transfers rakes in an extra 600 Baht per person.

    What makes things worst is that they contract a taxi driver that calls himself ping pong. A thai man in this 30s. He drives recklessly fast, to the point of putting the passengers lives at risk, overtaking blindly on curves or hills. When asked to drive slower he becomes enraged, saying how he doesn't care, that the taxi belongs to him and doesn't need to work because he has so much money, he passes around his drivers license stating that he has been driving for a long time, then pulls over the taxi and tells the men to get out that he will muy thai flight them, threatens to shoot them, bluffing to have a gun in the glove compartment. Claiming that he knows the thai mafia and can have them killed because he has so much money. This happened on our way there and back, however on our return when asked to drive slower he drove at 20km/h acting like a child throwing a tantrum. All the passengers agreed that our lives where at risk and when he pulled over to threaten us again we all got out and paid an additional 250 baht to get us all home. All a bunch of scam artists and a drugged lunatic that leaves a bitter taste in ur mouth. NEVER buy a ticket from PP services and transfers (they do trips to a couple of other islands too)Be very careful!

    Posted by Amber on 26th December, 2011

  • A holiday in Koh Samui, Thailand, sounds like the perfect getaway. With its nice beaches, clear waters, cheap living and wild parties, it makes it the perfect place for seven teenagers to go to during our holidays. So off we went to Koh Samui, staying in a beautiful villa and finally getting away from Singapore.

    This is where the perfect trip turned sour, on the second day here we were itching to go out and explore and of course spend the day at the beach. So off we went, first stopping by the local travel agencies to check if they have any good packages for water sports. We found it strange that none of the agencies had any packages that included jet skiing even though they had packages that included almost everything you could do on the island. Determined to have some fun we brushed off our suspicion and decided to go to the beach to find the jet ski vendors. Once at Chaweng Beach we were bombarded with the huge amount of jet ski vendors all trying to get us to rent the crafts from them. This is where the second hint came in, even though the beach was crowded with tourists from all over the world, there wasnt a single jet ski that was rented out.

    But being young and excited over having a high powered craft in our control, we didnt connect the dots, and decided to rent from this vendor who gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse, 40 minutes for 1000 baht. The usual pricing was 20 minutes for 800baht, so to us this was a steal.

    So the paper work began, the staff were extremely friendly even offering to sell us Cannabis (which we refused). We signed an agreement that was written in english, gave them our villa name, paid them and then was led to our individual jet skis to check for “damage”. Everything looked good so off we went. So after 40 adrenaline pumping minutes we headed back to shore, this is where the full force of the scam we were hooked into played out. As we all returned to the beach one by one, myself leading the group, I was confronted by the “boss” of the vendor claiming that one of us has been in an accident. This struck me as strange because before all the crafts were even back he was able to determine that they were damaged and that we have been in an accident even though NONE of us had collided, crashed, hit any rocks or anything of the sort. But assuming he had made a mistake I heard him out.

    Once all of us had returned to the beach the staff of the company (Sritong water sports) went to inspect the crafts. What they found was that ALL of our jet skis have been damaged but said that two of them didn't need repairing. So that left us with FIVE broken jetskis to pay for. So there we were protesting our innocence and claiming that they are trying to scam us, this of course angered them further seeing as how we were kicking up a ruckus on a crowded beach where they were trying to do “business”. So after talking and arguing the “boss” gave us an “estimate” of the total repair costs, which was a total of 120,000 baht (5,000 SGD). This of course angered us even more, because being students we don't have that kind of money and there is no way that we were willing to pay that kind of money for something we did not do in the first place.

    A brief side note: the five jet skis that were “damaged” had scratches on the sides and hull. On multiple online forums they stated that what these scam artists do is cover up the scratches with paint before renting them out, so after 40 minutes of hard usage the paint wears off and exposes the scratches. This enables them to allow the customers to “inspect” the craft before usage and note that there is “no” damage. As for the hull, it is already damaged all along but when they allow us to “inspect” for damage the craft is still submerged in the water so there is no way we are able to tell if the bottom is damaged or not. But when they bring the craft back for the final inspection, they ride the jet ski up onto the shore so that they can look at the hull and charge us for the damage. Once a victim has paid for the “repairs” the scam is repeated over and over again.

    Back to the story, so there we were at the beach angry and in a position where we can't do a runner. So we thought the next logical step would be to call the local police, that of course proved to be no use and even angered the vendor further seeing as he won't be able to repeat the scam today. At that point of time we were certain that the police would be able to help us and take the vendor down, but as we then found out the police are rather good friends with him. They told us all they could do was to help translate and negotiate with the vendor to give us a discount. Being even more frustrated that these officers were clearly on this guys payroll we decided to go to the local police station to ask the Singapore Embassy for advice.

    We got to the station where we waited and waited and waited for help, when it finally came the officer told us that we can either negotiate and pay the vendor or go to court. When we chose to go to court it seemed to anger the officer because now we had “made it difficult for him”. But on the advice of our embassy we were told to go to the Tourist Police.

    Off we went again, once there we were relieved to find officers who spoke english and agreed that the price quoted was over the top. But that relief soon disappeared when they told us they had NO power and were unable to enforce anything, their only role was to help negotiate and settle disputes.

    We once again found ourselves in a position where we had no choice but to pay.

    The vendor who had followed us all the way seemed to be getting tired of dealing with us so he started sprouting lower offers from 120,000 baht to 100,000 baht to 90,000 baht. Since we were unable to pay them as we simply did not have that kind of money and it was obviously a scam, we constantly rejected his offers. Which then pushed him to his boiling point, where he then said he doesn't care about that money any more and then challenged me to a pistol duel or fight, accepting the offer only angered him even more, I guess constantly having your bluffs called must suck.

    Now we were stuck at the tourist police with no way out and no compromise, but the vendor had another trick up his sleeve. He called in a “mechanic” to convince us of the damage we inflicted. The only problem was that we had seen that guy on the beach with him before we rented out the jet skis plus it didn't help that we was still wearing the same things he wore earlier and the fact that he was barefoot covered in sand.

    But all this waiting and wasting of time seemed to be breaking him down further he then offered us 50,000 baht and then 40,000 baht. Still unwilling to pay him, he told us that we should go back to the local police station to make a full report and then settle this issue in court. We gladly agreed and off we went to take on the full legal proceedings.

    Once at the police station the gravity of the situation we were in set in, and us pissing him off had its repercussions. Because once we got there all the officers acted like they could not see us, they wouldn't even look at us or respond. That’s when the “Big” Boss stepped in and all the officers stepped out, so we were literally in a local police station with no police officers. Now it was only us and the Thai Mafia.

    Another side note: The Singapore Embassy's only advice to us was to pay them off, not very useful at all.

    So now we were cornered with a violent Mafia boss and his lackies in an empty police station, he then proceeded to almost punch my friend, while his style of hard negotiations began. His wife was by his side attempting to reason with us for our “wrong doings” and insisting that we were the ones who were being “very bad human beings”. Being stuck in a situation like that, and out gunned we agreed to just give him all the money we had, this was so that we could get back to our villa and get more help, he agreed to this and suddenly became a caring human being asking us how much money we would need so that we can eat and go back to Singapore.

    Once back at the villa we learnt from the villa's owner and staff how this is a common scam that has been repeated over and over again. The owner being pissed off that this is happening to his customers again, went out to talk to the Mafia boss. This of course turned into a big argument where the Mafia Boss claimed that the villa's owner wasn't speaking very nicely. (Mind you their definition of “speaking nicely” is when one agrees with them completely, taking a different stance from them is deemed as “Not Speaking Nicely”.)

    So after an intense argument that almost turned into a gang fight, we settled on just paying them off to get rid of them and so that they won't hurt the owner. There goes our holiday money but at least they are gone for good right?

    WRONG. Now they are even more pissed off with the Villa's owner, the owner was equally pissed off at them for bullying their way into getting money again.

    That's when a member of the villa's staff came up to me and asked me to follow him to some negotiations so that that particular mafia won't come after the villa or the owner. Feeling like I owe the owner for sticking up for us, I agreed to follow him.

    We set off on a motorbike and turned onto a dirt path whch then led to the middle of nowhere there was a hut full of people, judging by the number of motorbikes that were parked outside it seemed like a big meeting. We parked the bike and then proceeded into the hut where it was full of men gambling. The staff member from the villa then proceeeded to talk to the men, and about half an hour later we were on our way back to the villa, where the staff updated me on what just happened. Apparently the hut that we were in was full of drug dealers, mafia bosses, “mercenaries” and the like. He told me that he had talked to another Mafia Boss who knows of the Mafia Boss that scammed us and that the Mafia Boss he talked to had a problem with that guy too. And that they will see what they can do to make it all go away.

    And that's the last we heard of them.

    What upsets us the most is that just a simple google search reveals the large number of jet ski scams reported from not only that area but most of the popular beaches here. Although we were lucky, we were upset at ourselves for not doing research but also at the Thai Government who constantly promotes the beach and the island as a perfect tourist destination but refuse to crackdown on these vendors.

    Of course we heard from a lot of other locals that the administraion here is also on the payroll of these Mafia bosses, which would explain the lack of action. But whether it is true or not, it won't be surprising after being in a local police station where all the officers left us to get beaten down by the mafia.

    For a country that constantly wants itself to become a world class tourist destination, it doesn't seem to be bothered about the safety and security of the tourists. Once the Mafia Bosses step in and decide to scam someone here there is practically nothing that the toruist can to do defend themselves. The police won't help and their embassy can't do anything.

    So to all those who wish to visit Thailand for a holiday think twice, I don't know how many different types of scams there are here ( I've heard quite a few ranging from car rental, motorbike retnal to tuk tuk scams), but if you are hit by one do not think that you would be able to refuse and get out of it, or turn to the authorities because in reality you would have no choice but to pay them off. So unless the Thai government wants to crackdown on the corruption, I suggest be very careful when visiting Thailand, don't rent anything especially not jet skis. And hopefully this message can be spread around the world so that less innocent people get conned and maybe the Thai goverenment would respond.

    Posted by SJC on 18th March, 2012

  • Hello,
    Recently I stayed at a hostel in Phuket Thailand - Bodega.
    This seems really good, clean facilities and helpful staff.
    They do whatever they can to make money, seducing tourists, getting return visits, and during alcohol bans, they give you 'special coffee' (alcohol hidden in a mug).
    The staff themselves are the epic thai. They care deeply for each other, and that's about the extent of it. The owner Donovan - is reputable for upsetting staff and customers alike, concerned for his own pockets. Money grubbers!
    They will book your stay and make you stay elsewhere. You may need help but all the workers 'Rum', 'Rah', etc. can offer, is drugs or a drink of something. The most irresponsible and unprofessional team ever encountered. Drinking/drunk on the job and off they go on their scooters or with guests when their shift is over.
    Definitely needs to be forewarned if you find yourself at Bodega Hostel in Phuket Thailand.

    Posted by Michael Craight on 18th March, 2012

  • Don't forget the famous jetski scam in Bangkok! Basically, DON'T rent a jet ski or you'll find yourself being accused of year old damage and coughing up hundreds, sometimes THOUSANDS of US Dollars.

    Posted by Jeff on 28th June, 2012

  • Beware travel agencies at Banglamphu (or everywhere) selling cheap joint tickets to islands - as Ko Phangan, Ko Samui, Ko Tao - (night bus + ferry, 500-600 THB eg. less than 20USD). There are thai-foreign mafia running the "business" in the buses. I've heard several cases where backbags have been checked and valuables stoled. Or even cases where they have put something to air-con (some gas to fall people to sleep) and mafia has robbed all money and valuables. In January-February 2012 I heard one guy lost 20000THB (630 usd) on a way to Ko Phangan. Pay more and take for example a train or more expensive joint ticket (night train, sleeper approx. 1000-1200thb or 35-40usd). Avoid those small travel agencies at Khao San area.

    Posted by Flying F on 21st July, 2012

  • Yes, you do need to be very careful in Thailand, there are lots of scams and lots of tourists get into trouble with them.

    In Pattaya, the jet-ski scam is the most well known.... basically, you hire one and when you bring it back the owner claims you've damaged it! Standard cost is about 30,000 baht and you're in big trouble if you don't pay!

    Posted by patadv on 3rd March, 2013

  • Hi People,
    Why do they do it ? because they can.
    Watch for combinations; this plus that means expense plus trouble.
    Plan the core (basics) of your trip.
    Never be in a hurry, that cost extra.
    Be charming to the hotel staff, they can help a lot.
    Do not do unfamiliar stuff such as jet skis and motorbikes.
    I went with a new friend on a trip and I paid my way, others called it a scam but for me it was a serene and enjoyable trip; the friendship was genuine (and not sexual).
    If you can find a trustworthy local and pay her holiday rates then that can be an excellent investment.
    Remember it is not only Thais; Queensland real estate has prices to suit client - local, interstate and Chinese.
    Holidays may have extra expenses, budget for it and just enjoy

    Posted by Ian Hamilton on 14th March, 2013

  • The contents of this article is very interesting, I am willing to read it, thank you it brings me happiness.

    Posted by thanh on 5th May, 2013

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