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Common Scams

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  • Common Scams

    Survival Guide: Beware of these common scams in Thailand

    Who wouldn’t like to visit Thailand? It’s warm, affordable and has everything you want, from exotic beaches with beautiful women and national parks full of wildlife, to the exciting nightlife of Bangkok’s concrete jungle. Most Thais are typically friendly and helpful, but there are some who like to take advantage of foreign tourists for their own benefit, especially ‘farang,’ or white Westerners. So you know what to watch out for, we’ve made a list of the common scams here in Thailand.

    Taxi & Tuk Tuk Scams
    This is the most common scam in the country. Most taxi drivers will claim that the meter is broken and you have to pay them at a ridiculous rate, just because you’re a foreigner. We recommended downloading Grab, a popular rideshare/taxi app similar to Uber. You can choose the vehicle of your choice, including a normal city car, a premium car, an SUV, or even a motorbike if you’re in a rush and on a budget. What makes it so great is that you’ll know the fixed price before booking and the duration of the ride. Along the same lines is the tuk tuk scam. We know most wide-eyed travellers want the tuk tuk experience. But most of the time, tuk tuk drivers will ask for an unreasonably high price, when you could probably ride the same distance in a safe air conditioned taxi for less than half the price. As you might expect, tuk tuks can be found at tourist attractions or near hotels. Bargain hard, but do be careful; drivers are notoriously manipulative. The best way to deal with them is to stand your ground. If you’re not happy with the price, it’s best to walk away. If you’re lucky, they might give in. If not, try again with another driver.

    Temple Scam
    This is another popular scam in the country. Believe it or not, many tourists fall for this more often than they should. So we’re here to save the day. You can thank us later. As you stroll down the street to one of the great temples in Bangkok, such as the Grand Palace or Wat Pho, a kind Thai individual will approach you and strike up a conversation. Once the foundation is laid, he will tell you the temples are closed and he can take you someplace else. If you believe him, he will invite you to visit another temple. Once there, you will be greeted by another friend of his, which is the second part of the scam. Similar to what you experienced earlier, he will ask you if you heard of an event that sells gems at a “very affordable price.” If you decide that you want to take a look at “the beautiful and affordable gems,” then he will be more than happy to take you there. The store will look like an authentic business, but remember, they’re in it together. The staff will claim that “today is the last day for the deal” which is not the truth. Nothing here is worth the price or below market value. This is where they reveal their true selves. They will become pushy, urging you to buy things so they can earn more money. Tricky enough? Once you’re distracted, they will vanish out of sight, having completed their mission.

    Scooter Scam
    This scam is often found on beaches like Pattaya or Phuket, but it doesn’t mean it won’t exist at other destinations in Thailand. It would be best not to rent a scooter; but if you really have to, let us spill the beans. When you rent one of their scooters, they will ask for your passport and/or deposit fee. Once you return the scooter back to them, they will tell you that you damaged their property and won’t give back your passport until you pay a fine. If you’re unlucky, some places have a spare key, which they will use to “steal” the scooter away, so you can buy a replacement. The ball is in their court, whatever the situation. Your best option is to rent from a place that is reputable and trustworthy. Also, just to be safe, inspect the scooter before you take it for a ride and snap photos of it for good measure.

    Bar Scam
    If you’re travelling alone or with your guy friends and a girl in a “revealing” outfit approaches you, keep an open mind. It might be hard at first, no pun intended. It’s better to keep walking, as the beloved Johnny Walker. If her charms manage to win you over and she lures you into her bar, chances are the drinks are going to be very expensive. Plus, she will want to drink with you, too — at your expense — doubling the bill.

    Tailor Scam
    This is similar to the gem scam that we tackled earlier. A taxi driver will ask if you want a new shirt or suit and offer his assistance. This is a big no-no and chances are, he will take you somewhere that is neither cheap nor more affordable than tailor shops you could easily find yourself.

    Fake Baht
    Occasionally, Thai news is gripped by a report about an invasion of counterfeit baht flooding the market. If you’re a traveler who isn’t familiar with how the banknotes look or feel, you’re likely to be offered these fake banknotes. To prevent this from happening to you, familiarize yourself with the look and feel of Thai baht banknotes before roaming around the country. Make sure that you exchange money only at an authorized currency exchange business.

    What’s your take?
    Thailand is a country that loves tourists, which also makes it fairly easy for some unsuspecting travellers to get scammed. Most of the scams in Thailand start the same way. A random person approaches you or someone offers you something. This should be a red flag. Keep your eyes open for anything unusual while you enjoy your time in Thailand. So what’s your take? Have you been scammed in Thailand before? Or is there a scam you know of that didn’t make our list? Let us know your thoughts in the ThaigerTalk comments section down below!

  • #2
    Thailand: Don’t answer calls starting with +697, it’s a scam

    Police do the "Don't Transfer" music video pose to warn Thais against transferring money to scammers

    If a number starting with +697 rings you, don’t answer. Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) says it is most likely a scam call centre trying to swindle you out of money. In a smart move to combat call centre scams, Thailand’s National Broadcasting Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has purposefully added the prefix +697 to IP calls to help people identify potential scammers.

    Internet Protocol (IP) calls are not registered with the authorities and are untraceable. Scammers have utilised IP technology to ensure their call can’t be traced to their location, or to make calls appear to be coming from different countries. Spokesperson for the DES Noppawan Huajaimun thanked the NBTC for implementing the +697 measure. Not only does it warn the public to be vigilant against scammers, but it also allows people who receive text messages or calls from suspicious numbers to request to have the number blocked by their mobile operator.

    Call centre scams have become such a problem in Thailand in recent times that the NBTC said today that they are going to fine any mobile phone carrier that refuses to tackle the problem a whopping 1 million baht per day. After thousands of Thai people complained they had been scammed by “call centre scammers”, the Thai government assigned the DES and Royal Thai Police to combat the problem back in January this year. Scam call centres can be huge international operations. In March, Thai and Cambodian police raided two offices in Cambodia, arresting 61 Thai and Cambodian suspects in total. The scammers impersonated police and delivery drivers from companies like DHL and FedEx.

    So many Thai people fell victim to call centre scams this year that the government released a song called “Ya Own”, or “Don’t Transfer”, back in March. The catchy state-sponsored song and video – featuring 2 Thai country singers – was intended to make the people of Thailand stop and think before transferring money to anyone. However, scam call centres continue to develop their technology to become even more convincing. One scam call centre used “deepfake” technology in a video call to pose as a Pattaya police officer in real-time. Luckily the desired victim didn’t fall for it.

    Perhaps the +697 measure will help stomp out Thailand’s call centre scammers for good.


    • #3
      Khao San scam: tourists forced to pay for returning lost wallet

      A new warning has gone out as yet another scam is being perpetrated on foreigners in the tourist backpacker mecca that is Khao San Road. This scam targets would-be do-gooders trying to help return a lost wallet. A man recently reported to local media that he had been leaving a bar late at night when all the clubs and nightlife shut down on the infamous party road when he stumbled upon a wallet on the ground, lying innocently next to a lamppost. He picked it up and inspected the lost wallet and discovered 1,000 baht inside.

      He knew he wanted to do the right thing and turn it in, but it was very late and everything was closed, so he decided to hang onto it until the morning when he could return it to its rightful owner. The next day, a woman came around to claim the lost wallet, but that’s when things took a turn for the worse. Instead of being thankful for the good samaritan returning her lost item, she demanded to know what happened to the other 5 or 6 thousand baht that had been in the purse when she lost it. The argument escalated and the police were involved.

      The Chana Songkram police inform the man that his good deed had left him on the hook for the money the lost wallet owner claimed was missing. They advised him, despite his protests, that if he didn’t pay her the money, he could be prosecuted for theft. The man was shocked that the police were taking the woman’s side and treating him as a criminal for trying to help. He tried to get assistance and contacted local friends who are Thai nationals, but no one could do anything to aid him and, in the end, he had no choice but to pay the woman for helping her.

      Local vendors confirm that this was not the first time they heard of this scam being pulled on international travellers in the busy tourist area. Many are appealing to the police and authorities to take action to prevent this and other scams from being carried out. Tourism stands in a fragile balance, with only a fraction of the numbers previously travelling to Thailand before Covid-19, and scams like this being perpetuated and publicized will drive tourists away when the country is desperately trying to bring them back. For now, think twice about picking up a lost wallet you find on the street.


      • #4
        Man gets scammed by two escorts in one night in northeast Thailand

        A man who would rather not be named says he was deceived by not one, but two prostitutes last night in Loei province in northeast Thailand. The man filed a complaint against the women at Mueang Leoi Police Station this morning but, to no one’s surprise, police can’t help him. The 24 year old man from Mueang district – let’s call him Wan – filed a complaint at Mueang Leoi Police Station at 11.30am today after getting scammed out of 1,200 baht last night.

        Wan told police that he went out drinking with his friend at a restaurant in Loei city and got “a little bit drunk.” Then, his friend suggested the idea of inviting prostitutes to join them. In a “secret” online group, Wan said he found an escort that he liked the look of and invited her out to the restaurant. The prostitute said the night would cost him a total of 1,200 baht and he needed to transfer her a “deposit” of 500 THB before she joined the men. As soon as Wan sent her the money, she blocked him.

        Wan, eager not to give up on his hopes of finding a woman to spend the night with, started a conversation with another escort in the “secret” online group. The second escort also said she would charge him 1,200 THB for the night, but needed him to transfer her a deposit of 700 THB. As soon as Wan sent the money, he got blocked, again.

        When Wan woke up in the morning, displeased with how his night turned out, he marched down to the police station to file a complaint against the two women. Seeing as prostitution is illegal in Thailand, the police didn’t give him much sympathy. However, they did file his complaint and save evidence of his conversations and transactions with the deceitful women. Wan told his story to the media because he said he wants to warn other men against falling victim to the escort scam.


        • #5
          Scams in Thailand – Common scams in Thailand to watch out for!

          Like anywhere in the world that’s popular with tourists, there are scams in Thailand. Nobody likes being played for a fool, and being scammed leaves you bitter and, for some people, broke. Fortunately, most Thailand scams are easy to avoid and not all that common either. Here are the ones you’re most likely to run into and the best ways to avoid falling for them.

          Bangkok tuk-tuk scams
          Most drivers of Bangkok’s famous three-wheeled tuk-tuks will overcharge you and maybe take you to the restaurant, where they get a commission, but a small minority will try to trick you outright. These drivers wait near touristy areas like Khao San Road or the Royal Palace, looking for marks. They then tell you that whatever destination you ask to be taken to is closed for renovation or a holiday and that they have somewhere better to show you. They might even offer to take you for free, but with a quick stop first. These drivers will take you from place to place, each of which pays them a flat fee plus commission on anything you buy. There will be at least a tailor shop, a gem and jewellery store, and a restaurant. They will range from merely poor quality to outright fraudulent. The gems may be fake, the tailors use the worst synthetic fabrics, and some restaurants will bring a check for ten times what you expected to pay and then get back a different menu than what you ordered when you complained. However, luckily, these are easily avoided by only using tuk-tuks for A to B journeys, not full-day tours. In general, they’re slower than trains and more expensive than taxis, but they are a true part of Bangkok and every visitor should at least try them out. Keep your wits about you and never believe a driver is telling you your destination is closed. Also, you should bargain as the first price they give you will almost always be too high. Never get in a tuk-tuk without first agreeing on the fare. And a quick tip, If you’re wondering what a fair price for a tuk-tuk ride is, check what a fare to the destination would cost if booked through the Grab App (the Uber of Southeast Asia). If a Grab costs 100
          Baht, a tuk-tuk should run about 150 to 200. S
          cams in Thailand

          The jet ski scam
          This one is widespread in Pattaya and has happened in Phuket and some smaller islands. This one works: after you’ve been out enjoying a jet ski, you return it, and the renter points out some minor cosmetic damage. You are blamed even though you both know it wasn’t you who caused the damage, and excessive repair fees are demanded. If the situation escalates, a cop will show up to help you, just kidding, the cop will be in on the scam, and he’ll drive you to an ATM and probably threaten you with arrest or violence if you don’t pay up. This one is so common in Pattaya that we’d advise against renting a jet ski there. In other places, check some online reviews and ask your hotel for a recommendation for an honest rental home. If you fall for the scam, you can be polite but insistent that you did not cause the damage and will not pay. You will probably be safe doing this as long as you are out in a public place. Don’t go anywhere with Them, and don’t get physically or verbally abusive even though you are in the right. Technically, property damage would be a civil issue, not a criminal one, and you should not be arrested even if you did cause the damage. Just know that these criminals make their living doing this and will be very persuasive and threatening. It may be best to pay, but at least try calling the tourist police at 1155.
          Scams in Thailand
          Motorbike rental scams
          This one is tough because so many tourists do crash here and cause damage to bikes. A common one similar to the jet ski racket is dishonest scooter rental shops trying to charge for damages the renter didn’t cause. Some shops seem to have gotten so used to that extra revenue from charging for damages that they try to pry it out of you whenever possible. Shops either hold onto your passport or a significant amount of cash, so they keep the leverage. The best thing you can do to prevent this is to try to vet the rental shop. Renting directly from your hotel is often the best course. One thing that we find works well is searching “motorbike rental” in Google Maps and check the reviews of different shops that are listed. No matter what, taking detailed photos of the bike when you first rent is essential to prove any existing damage already exists. Be careful some worst of these shops will point out some wear on the underside of the bike. And of course, nobody thinks to check there. They can be tricky.

          Bus scams
          Some of the dirt-cheap buses that run between Khao San Road and the islands in the South can keep their prices so low by stealing from their passengers. While you are sleeping through the long journey, someone is down below the bus, combing through your luggage. This doesn’t happen on everyday transportation in Thailand, just these backpacker buses, so avoiding them should ensure this doesn’t happen to you. Also, never keep cash, credit cards, electronics or any other valuables in your non-carry- on bag. For more, see our post Travelling with valuables and keeping them safe.

          Go-Go bar and ping pong show scams
          In red light district areas, a common scam is for promoters on the street to invite you in for a free preview of a ping pong show (just in case you don’t know, this involves women
          doing different tricks with their private parts – seriously). Once inside, you’ll be told you need to pay up. You’ve put yourself in this situation, and paying is probably the only way out. Nothing is free. You’re already inside the bar’s dark, and the bouncers would be only too glad to beat you up.

          Wrong change!
          Get acquainted with the local currency! Keep track of the different baht notes you possess and their appearance once you leave the money changer. Many tourists often find themselves shortchanged and taken advantage of by cashiers unfamiliar with Thai money. Places like 7-Eleven and Family Mart in tourist areas usually declare out loud the amount you pay during your purchase, so take the effort to double-check and ensure that the change you receive is the correct one. A variant of this scam revolves around the shopkeeper accusing you of paying with a counterfeit note. He or she would go to the back of the store, away from your sight, swap the letter you handed over with a realistic counterfeit one and return it. He or she would demand a new payment by giving the fake note to you, leaving you to pay twice or thrice the original amount. To avoid this, always keep an eye on your baht notes and roughly remember the serial numbers of the larger ones. The latter may be a mild inconvenience for some, but it can save you and your tight budget.

          And lastly, be alert but don’t forget to have fun.
          Thailand has scams and corrupt police, and you need to be careful while here. But the same is true of just about anywhere else. Thailand is generally a safe country and very easy to travel in. Enjoy yourself but don’t get complacent. Always remember that some people will try to trick you out of money, but don’t forget that most people will not. Do this, and your Thailand adventure will be as safe as it is epic.
          Last edited by Tripadvisor; 09-24-2022, 04:59 PM.