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  1. #1
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    Oopsie... Thai Gem Scams and many more!

    Just came back couple days ago from Bangkok. on e 2nd last day of my trip 22 Aug 06, me & my gf met this dark Thai guy (Thai No. 1) outside Isetan, world trade centre, at e 2 shrines. His opening line was talking about how to pray to e elephant god but his accent was quite thick so we din really catch what he was saying.

    After that, he asked us where we were going (Pratunam market),he recommended us to go to pray to "Lucky Buddha" before going there. "Lucky Buddha" is opened only once a month to the public, so we thought we were really lucky & he went on to ask what we were working as & he said he been to S'pore a few x & he'll be going there nxt chinese new year as he has lawyer friends there, he's been to lucky plaza, sim lim etc. He even showed us his Thai ID. Thai No. 1 is short, fat, dark & in his 50s, speaks English with a thick accent like has phlegm in his throat.

    Then he told us about this jewellery shop also only open once a month to tourists but they only limited to buying one set at discounted price, cause the shop is a wholesaler to big jewellery shops in s'pore like ang chang, poh heng etc & it charges 100% export tax to them. Once again, we thought we were lucky.

    He then called for a tuk tuk (told us to hire tuk tuk with only blue uniforms & yellow tags cause they're regulated... can anyone verfiy if it's true?) to take us to "Lucky Buddha" temple ie. Wat Disallongsaram (near Bangkok Palace Hotel), followed by the jewellery shop & finally our destination (Pratunam).

    Upon reaching the temple which was like located inside a small road, the tuk tuk driver waited for us while we went in. It was a rather small temple with many stray dogs running around (minimum 30). We couldn’t really locate e door as we saw 2 wooden doors but they were closed. As we went round the corner, a Thai man appeared out of nowhere & we asked him where the entrance was. He said “oh u’re not thais?” & brought us in. My gf had noticed later on he was wearing socks with sandals despite his long sleeved shirt & pants attire.

    After praying to the “Lucky Buddha” (come to think of it now, there was only this huge Buddha which looked kinda cramp inside accompanied by a few other statues, it seemed really run down compared to other temples), he told us it was 100 yrs old & only opened once a month to public cause other days of the month are for the monks to pray for the thai people.

    Then he asked us how we got to know of this temple & of course we told him about thai man no. 1 (cause not many ppl will know about this place….. yeah right), & where we were going next. He then told us about the same story about how e jewellery shop was giving discounts & only for tourist open once a month etc etc, in between asking us what jobs we held. (seems like checking out if u’re rich enough to buy jewellery)


    He then pulled out a receipt from his pouch for a set of sapphire jewellery (like for ear rings, bracelet the lot) which was priced at $96,200 Baht or about US$2,600.00 (which was stated there, probably for potential prey to have an easier convsersion). Told us he was a silk businessman flying to London morrow where he’ll sell it off at Harrods for twice e price or US$5,000. He actually had a loophole at one point but we din realize that time, ie. He mentioned only tourists could buy 1 set at discounted rates so how could he an authentic thai buy it at a discount. Thai No. 2 is slim & in his late 40s, he has got big bug eyes & as he talks u’ll see his eyes open quite big.

    After we left the temple, the tuk tuk brought us to the jewellery shop “Yindee Lapidary Co Ltd”. The staff welcomed us warmly & spoke not bad English. The shop was empty except for a Caucasian family who were selecting gems. The boss, a thai Chinese in his 50s (with a big nose & long ears) would welcome us warmly & offered us drinks (saying even if you don’t buy, it’s ok as they’re registered with S’pore-Thai chamber of commerce, he’ll show you the book even). They’ll then proceed to educate you on how to select gems & how to tell a real one from a fake one, using a diamond tester (to convince you that your purchase is real).

    At this junction, another guy (turned out to be a Singaporean !!!) who’ll come over & show his receipt to the boss (there’s other staff around but why only to the boss?) & they seemed to know each other well, like hi how are you etc? He’s in his 50s, slim, has gold bracelet & rings encrusted with diamonds on his hands, probably to impress you that he made $ through this method, when he talks he looks toothless but has teeth in the upper row.

    He then chit chatted with us like asking us where we were from & say oh he’s from there too, later on breaking into our dialects to strengthen the “bond” with you. He’ll tell us the same thing bout him coming here to buy only 1 set with cert & all & selling it back to local gold shops for a profit, been here 3 x but his wife never saw it. He told us to tell the shop that we are buying it for personal use but after that we sell it off later. As he left he din seem to collect anything from the counter.

    The staff would proceed to show us all the expensive sets of jewellery & when my gf enquired on individual pieces then did they show us separate pieces. We went down to view the cheaper pieces (so called cheapest sapphire ring was at S$580), but we did not have any intention on buying, so we left the place with just their namecard which they welcomed us back again (my a**).

    We were very lucky in that we didn’t purchase any gems or forced to cause the gems you buy are not fake, they’ve certificates to prove & diamond testers but just that the prices have been marked up & are not as good quality as you think they are. We were even considering buying some for investment the next time round till my very good friend told me it was a scam & I looked it up.

    There are links on which you can read up on Thailand gem scams. The 1st link is on e blacklisted jewellery shops & how they operate, the 2nd & 3rd links are specific threads on “Yindee Lapidary Co Ltd”.

    http://www.angkor.com/2bangkok/2bang...s/stores.shtml

    (Yindee is near the bottom of the page)

    http://www.angkor.com/2bangkok/2bang...s/sapp27.shtml

    http://www.angkor.com/2bangkok/2bang...s/sapp31.shtml

    The Thai government is fully aware of this problem but there’s nothing they can do & credit card companies will not be at your side either, so be warned !

  2. #2
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    Thanks for sharing your story with us "recycling". As you know now, your story is a common one which happens every day here in Thailand. I wish more people would be brave like you, to honestly tell about their experience so that others can learn from what has happened before. If more people know about these scams then there will be less con artists trying to scam tourists in the future.

    If you have been scammed or someone tried to con you, then please be brave and share your story.

    Thanks again "recycling".

  3. #3
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    The post by recycle....describes a confidance scam. There are others. The gold necklace switch game is common with tourist. Let's say the purchase of a specific gold necklace is decided on. Shop keeper must go to the back room to prepare the necklace for "sale" ...Switch is made from the current 22K, 96.5 one to a 14 K one. Colored properly, this necklace looks just like the previous one. Gold is stamped with a shop owners "signature" Reselling gold in thailand normally requires the seller to go to the shop where he originally bought the piece. Gold shop keepers do not often trust other gold shop keepers.... Then the free shipping scam. Tourist selects a 100 piece place setting, in this beautiful case. Price is right for the tourist. Shop keeper suggests that tourist has purchase mailed to his home, as customs may charge an import fee. Customer says O.K. Only to discover that his purchase is never delivered. Appraising gems, gold necklaces and ornamental dismonds is a subjective call. The biggest scam of all today in thailand, as is almost everwhere, is over pricing. Ornamental stuff is just that, ornamental. And, in many peoples perception, that includes diamonds. Ever check the cost of a "new" diamond in a retail store, then put that same diamond in a pawn shop. Well, the pawn shop owner, if he sells that diamond, will only get about 30cents on the dollar.

  4. #4
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    Back in July, I was approached by a guy at Wat Prakaew and he told me it was closed because some monks were praying. I had a farang friend with me so he targeted us. He offered me and a friend a 20 baht tuk tuk ride which was regulated by the government. He said only tuk tuks with the name Chaiyo are regulated. I already knew this whole scam thing and I refused but he was very insistent and was basically standing right in front of the palace. I can't believe they just let these guys stand there in plain view.

    On our way out and heading over to the lying Buddha, another guy right outside the gate approached us. He was very insistent that it was closed and I got mad at him and I yelled at him "I don't want to buy any jewelry!" There were two tuk tuk drivers watching this whole thing, I think they were part of the scam. When the tuk tuk driver heard me raising my voice at the guy he nearly fell to the ground and I have never seen a Thai person laugh so hard in my life. He understood every word I said.

    If you didn't know any better, these guys sound very convincing and I cannot imagine how many tourists they rip off everyday. 2Bangkok alludes to the problem only getting worse since Thaksin's been in office. It would seem like this problem would be so easy to correct but you can almost be sure that somewhere, somehow, someone's got a connection or is paying somebody else off. Glad to hear you didn't get ripped off recycling...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by recycling
    Just came back couple days ago from Bangkok. on e 2nd last day of my trip 22 Aug 06, me & my gf met this dark Thai guy (Thai No. 1) outside Isetan, world trade centre, at e 2 shrines. His opening line was talking about how to pray to e elephant god but his accent was quite thick so we din really catch what he was saying.
    I had the exact same experience 4 or 5 years ago!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by badfish
    Back in July, I was approached by a guy at Wat Prakaew and he told me it was closed because some monks were praying. I had a farang friend with me so he targeted us. He offered me and a friend a 20 baht tuk tuk ride which was regulated by the government. He said only tuk tuks with the name Chaiyo are regulated. I already knew this whole scam thing and I refused but he was very insistent and was basically standing right in front of the palace. I can't believe they just let these guys stand there in plain view.
    This TOO!!!! 4 or 5 years ago!

    So I guess its nothing new... and no authorities had stepped up to do anything about it.... I wonder why...

  6. #6
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    Although this gives the impression it happens all the time, that is not really true. Not everyone gets hit. I have been to these locations many times just with the intention on being scammed. But, it has never worked. Both Steve Suphan and myself want to write a blog about it but we have never had any personal experiences of being scammed by these guys. Maybe it is because we don't look like tourists any more?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Barrow
    Although this gives the impression it happens all the time, that is not really true. Not everyone gets hit. I have been to these locations many times just with the intention on being scammed. But, it has never worked. Both Steve Suphan and myself want to write a blog about it but we have never had any personal experiences of being scammed by these guys. Maybe it is because we don't look like tourists any more?
    In retrospect, I know exactly what did it. I don't look like a tourist at all but I remember each time I got a bite was when I pulled out that Skytrain map to see where we were and how we could get to the other sites. Walking up to the Grand Palace I pulled out the map so that we could have a plan of where we would go after. Then walking out I pulled out the map to verify our course. As soon as I pulled out the map I got bit and the guys began scribbling onto my map to tell me what route to take. So bring a map with you if you want to get a bite for your blog.

  8. #8
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    I have been to these locations many times just with the intention on being scammed
    Richard, I think its almost hit and miss thing. I too visit the area regularly and have had the "it is closed today for (insert reason) but I can arrange a tuk tuk to another nearby temple" approach on only a couple of occasions. This has even happened whilst accompanied by Thai friends! Seems that if you walk from Tah Tien Pier as opposed to Tha Chang you have more chance of meeting these scammers because they operate between Wat Pra Kiew and Wat Po.

    Last time I was approached I told the guy in Thai that I thought he spoke very good English language. We ended having a laugh together and I felt that I had turned the situation around and instead of feeling annoyed I had a smile on my face for the rest of the afternoon.

  9. #9
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    I got taken for a ride once. It sounded like a scam to me, but in our group, someone was totally enthusiastic about taking a spin around and seeing 5 buddhas for 20 baht. Well... after the first stop we got the word. At least the bathrooms at the jewelry store were nice and clean, and there was no sales pressure inside so we all got enough time to take care of business. Afterwards, we insisted the drivers take us back to the Grand Palace and got in the doors with about 2 minutes to spare. You could say it was a waste of 90 minutes, or you could say that the "wild ride" was a story we can tell for the rest of our lives.

  10. #10
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    So, did you see the 5 Buddhas in the end? I really need to walk up and down that road holding a map in one hand and Lonely Planet in the other. I would love to get a cheap tour like that. As long as there is no pressure to buy something of course.

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