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My Travel Story: Erawan lapidary - gem scam - success story!
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  1. #1
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    Erawan lapidary - gem scam - success story!

    I was a solo backpacker in Khao San Road, Bangkok for 4 days at the end of the May. The story is pretty similar to those described in all the articles that I have found through the web. When I walked towards Grand Palace, a smiling Thai came to greet me and he then said that today is their BUDDHA DAY and the whole morning there is praying by the monks and the royal family in the grand palace itself and IT WILL BE CLOSED FOR THE MORNING AND OPEN AFTER 1 PM. He appeared helpful and started to suggest places to go while waiting for the palace to open again. He saw my map and started circling out some temples on it (the so-called 'Standing Buddha temple', 'Lucky Buddha temple’, Golden Temple, Wat Pro) and said that all the temples on Thailand are free-entry due to the BUDDHA DAY.

    He suggested taking a tuk tuk to tour these temples first and came back at 1 pm to visit the palace. He then added that the Thai government in celebration of Buddha Day, has ordered that the tuk tuk bring tourists around the temples, he circled out for a flat fee of 40 BHT and to bring the tourists to a Thai gem export shop as well. (He specifically mentioned that only the tuk tuk with the yellow vehicle plate are involved in the special offer as THEY ARE government owned Tuk Tuks). He told us of this wonderful Thai export center for gems that is only open to public (tourists, local students, local Thai etc, 7 days a year to buy tax free gems and today is the last day and urged me to take a look. The rest of the year, the export center only caters to businessmen.

    He then hired a tuk tuk off the road immediately and started talking to the driver in Thai and pointed to the circled areas on the map, appearing very helpful. He emphasized to the driver that he must bring us to the circled sites first and bring us back to the grand palace, after which then I will pay him his 40 BHT. Tuk tuk driver kept bowing and appeared super friendly! I got on the tuk tuk, thinking how lucky I am to meet such a deal. The fact that I only pay the driver after everything somehow sets me at ease as I have no fear that the tuk tuk driver will cheat me... how wrong I am.

    Tuk tuk driver first took me to visit the Standing Buddha, Wat Indrawiharn, and then somehow dropped me at a remote temple not found anywhere on my map! When I asked him what temple it is, he just said LUCKY BUDDHA. When I asked him to point out location on map, he pointed to an area without any marking of a temple...thinking it was just a simple temple and I thought maybe just pay our respects and leave. Inside the temple, the temple sweeper indicated me to the left-hand side, there was already another person sitting there. That person said he was there for an hour already....

    He started making small talk, asking me where I came from, where I stayed and when I left Thailand. He then introduced himself as a US citizen He was very smooth talker and didn't mention anything about jewelry shops until he asked why I knew the Lucky Buddha and I showed him my paper that the initial con artist had also labeled Thai export on it. And he said that he only back to Bangkok for the past 1 week to visit his mother and for this annual gem sale and he has been doing this for the past 10 years!

    He said the Thai government is very strict on this gem sale and is monitoring it closely, thus everyone is only allowed to buy 1 set and I am supposed to buy it only for personal use and not to resale. He claimed that on usual days, Thai government will charge 150% tax on all gems bought in Thailand but for this special 1 week, they are willing to forgo this tax and sell it at cost price. He mentioned that he will buy 1 set every year and bring to sell at 200% profit! He then pulled out this receipt from his bag for a set of pendant, earrings and ring costing 130,000BHT. He said I am very lucky as it is the last day of the sale. After 10 min of chit chat, I decided to check with the Thai how long more I have to wait, he then said 15 min, so I decided to wait for it. The Thai kept reminding me to go to the export store before it close, at last I left the Lucky Buddha.

    Tuk Tuk sent me to an old unglam looking 2 storey shop house along the side of the road and said that this is the Thai Export shop. I surprised that the setup will be so small bearing in mind it is an annual gem sale and a lot of foreign tourists expected,. but somehow I just went in. Inside were all ladies, including a well groomed lady who claimed to be the manager. I were shown sets of jewellery in 2 different designs only. The manager went on to say that she is into export business and that she is only offering this sale for 1 week annually to clear old stock.

    While I were choosing, an European male came into the store and introduced himself as a French from Paris. He also claimed to visit Bangkok to buy gems back to sell... been doing it for 3 years. He took a set worth 139,600 BHT and without examining it much, took out one thick stack of money and gave it to the sales lady!!! He then advised me to send the jewellery back to our country as it is valuable stuff and the Thai Customs not allowed gem depart Thailand. I went to level 2 for payment. Upstairs it looked totally like any storeroom! And you wouldn't think of it as a gem store. The sales lady took my passport and credit card and went to photocopy, saying that it is government requirement to track all jewellery bought... (how silly I am by letting my credit card out of my sight! Coz they can easily copy down my CC number!)

    After the whole transaction is over, the sales lady offered to send one 50 years old lady to acc me in a taxi to the EMS post office at Chatuchak weekend market, and said that the company will give me a free city tour.! I got on the taxi (how stupid right...), which brought me to Chatuchak weekend market, sent off parcel. Then the lady took me to grand palace, Wat Pro and boat trip, At last, left me at the pier near my hotel at KaoSan Road.

    I kept on thinking about the unusual events and had a very chilling feeling about the whole thing. Eventually I found many sites as searches for ERAWAN LAPIDARY!! Holy Crap!! I am a victim! I immediately called up my Credit Card company but the bank has no way of reversing the transaction on their side and the only way is to get the merchant to cancel the transaction. Really leaves a very sour taste for the last leg of my trip and I doubt that I will ever return there again.

    What most people find out soon enough when they try and sell them is that the expensively purchased "gems" are really only worth a tiny fraction of what you paid for them. If you're lucky, you're just sold pretty bits of worthless cut-glass. Either way, virtually all the money that was spent on the gems is now lost. The receipt, money back guarantee and certificate of authenticity are barely worth the paper they're printed on.

    The reason the shop wants to mail them abroad for you is, of course, to stop you coming back and demanding your money back when you realized what's happened. Though chances of getting your money back aren't great even when you still have the "gems" with you, they are non-existent if you have mailed them abroad. For a similar reason, after you've made your purchase they may take you out for sightseeing around Bangkok or even nearby provinces for free. This is all to try and reduce the amount of time you have to realize you've been scammed.

    The shops are well aware most tourists only have a few days in Bangkok at most, so any time they spend taking you sightseeing is using up the precious time you have of realizing what happened and getting the police involved, or getting to the mail center on time to intercept your package before it leaves the country.

    I just want to let the word out so that if people search ERAWAN LAPIDARY, they will be able to find out about the scam and the great website you have much more quickly.

    I got scammed by ERAWAN LAPIDARY and I haven't even pay off my credict card bills. Will Visa Card get involved if there is known fraud? I am putting the dispute in writing to Visa Card. This may be my most effective method. My view is that Visa Card must know that ERAWAN LAPIDARY has been heavily reported as fraudulent. I think Visa Card could have stopped the charge on that basis.

    The "agreement" had my sign says they will refund up to 70% and it includes the statement "Conditions applicable to customers who directly contact the company only." To me this is part of the many layered scam -- they are grossly dishonest, so I expect any contact with any other authority, like Visa Card would be cited as a reason to refuse a refund.

    Please advise if there is anything I can do now. How can I try to get our money back? Do I have to physically return the product to try to get our money back? Is it useful to contact the China Embassy? Any information you can give will definitely be helpful.

    I look forward to your reply, and will wait as long as possible.

  2. #2
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    Re: Erawan lapidary - gem scam - success story!

    TELEPHONE VISA IMMEDIATELY-IF YOU LET YOUR CREDIT CARD OUT OF YOUR SIGHT CHANCES ARE IT HAS BEEN CLONED (COPIED) TELL VISA WHAT HAPPENED-ASK THEM WHAT DETAILS ARE ON YOUR BILL SINCE YOU DID THE JEWELLERY TRANSACTION-IF THERE ARE ANY THAT YOU ARE SURE ARE NOT YOURS-TELL THEM AND ASK THEM TO CANCEL THE CARD-DO IT NOW!
    Dispute the sale while you are contacting them. This is a very old con.The "70% back" offer with conditions is to keep you from telling the Police, Credit card company etc- and is worthless.
    Please post your experience at http://www.bangkokscams.com/ for the education of others. Nothing else you can do.
    Last edited by Khun Don; 17-06-12 at 04:57 AM.

  3. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Khun Don For This Useful Post:

    fileeep (17-06-12), Marie (17-06-12), PeaBrain (18-06-12)

  4. #3
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    Re: Erawan lapidary - gem scam - success story!

    I sent you the email with the complain letter to Mr. Suchat Sinarat, The Department of Internal Trade ,Ministry of Commerce, about the scam of tourists by the " ERAWAN LAPIDARY", but I haven't receive any reply from you. Please advise if there is anything I can do now. How yours get your money back?

    I just received my credit card statement for last month and was about to settle the bill when I saw the scam story. I called the credit card company as soon as I read about the Gem Scam and they said that since I signed for it then there is nothing they can do on their side. They faxed me the Customer Dispute Form for fraud cases.

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to fwtang For This Useful Post:

    Khun Don (18-06-12)

  6. #4
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    Re: Erawan lapidary - gem scam - success story!

    I will go back to bangkok tomorrow, any further advise and suggestion can help me?

  7. #5
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    Re: Erawan lapidary - gem scam - success story!

    Where is the success story? You got ripped off and nothing back. The only success here is for the jewelry store making some money off of you. Sorry to hear of your problems but your detailed story will hopefully help others avoid making the same mistake.

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