My sister wrote this story, if you search for gem scam in Bangkok you would read of tourists, well traveled or newbie travelers who have been duped into this elaborate con. I’m just glad nothing worse happened to her.
I never thought there would be any scams more elaborated than we see in a movie, but my experience in Thailand let me know I was wrong.
After visiting the Grand Palace, I and my friend decided to have a look at Wat Pho.
While walking under the sun my friend bought a water nearby when a guy sitting at the corner kindly asked us where we are from, and where we are going, when we said Wat Pho, he said that the monks are praying and that it is not open to visitors till 5pm, it was 3:30 pm then and since we didn’t have other plan, we didn’t doubt what he said, he advised us to see other temples and circled some good destinations on our map; such as the Lucky Buddha, Factory export etc. He gave us a tuk-tuk and told us to pay 40 bath for the whole trip explaining that tuk-tuks overcharge tourists and that he can get the price cheaper for us because he is Thai.
Without any question, we followed his direction, and went to the Lucky Buddha – the tuk-tuk driver waited for us outside
The driver firstly took us to a small and quiet temple not worth for foreigners to visit at all. Though I was very disappointed, I still thought I should just give a quick look.
On the 2nd route we were taken to the lucky Buddha temple, where we were approached by another local, who said he worked from the department of tourism who had the day off, He seemed so polite and knowledgeable, he striked up a conversation with us, about where we’re from, what we’re doing. And suggest that we visit Pattaya, Ayuthayya, the Weekend market, and he then mentioned the Export Centre where we are able to buy sapphires and rubies tax free,
He said every year the government will have one week export promotion,, the Thai Govt had waived the tax on gems jewelry for a week and that day was the last day and we must take advantage of this special promotion. Besides that, the prices of gems would be given a discount of 30%. Hence, as tourists, it was the best time to buy some gems and bring back to our country.
Thinking what he said was true, we agreed to go and have a look. We never suspected that he was scamming us as he looked sincere and polite. He said that we are lucky, since we wouldn’t have missed the opportunity as it was the last day of the promotion. When we arrived at the shop, We are greeted by two thai people.
We thought that this was a govt approved center and they sell real gems. The guy assisting me confirmed what the tourism man said and the prices would go up the following day. He said that their shop is selling genuine jewelry and prices are all under Thai Government control. He also said that it is a wholesale shop and they supply to Italy and France jewelers; He then brought us around and showed us sapphire rings, pendants, earrings. Finally, after all the explanations and convincing, Me and my friend bought 2 sets of jewelry for safe keeps. We signed the agreement (too bad we also gave our addresses and passport copies)
The total cost came up to 50,000 baht. He even gave us Certificates of Guarantee.
We trusted them as they seemed genuine and sincere.
When we came back at our hotel I quickly got on the internet to see the reviews on that jewelry shop. My heart sank when I found out we were scammed
I have read that the Tourist Police are not very helpful (and their superiors are possibly part of this scam) and it would be unwise to return to the place of purchase (The Oscar) due to time and language problems. Furthermore, there are reports that victims who chose this route have been abused and beaten up by the mafia.
Thank God I am finally back here! So many lesson learned…I ended up spending even more money on flights, accommodation, not to mention my holiday time that could have been better spent elsewhere… This trip ruined my vacation leave…