Readers' Submissions

Singaporean Seeking Justice After Encountering The Thai Gem Scam in Bangkok

  • Written by Anonymous
  • August 2nd, 2008
  • 5 min read



After browsing several web sites, I could not help crying over the scam that happened in Bangkok on 21 August.

The incident was exactly the same as what most of the people described. Met with a friendly Thai, told to go temple, met another friendly Thai, asked you to go to another place. Then found to lure into a scam after payment has been made…

My wonderful vacation has been ruined by this scam!!!

On 21 July at around 10.30, I was outside Pratunam Center. A local Thai man in his fifties approached me and started with simple conversation. He claimed to be a watchman for Pratunam Center , and just got back from Singapore after purchased of laptops at Sim Lim Square for his boss who owns Pratunam Center . He asked me to visit a Temple called “ Lucky Temple ” which opens once a month. He claimed that I was so lucky as the temple opened that day for month of July. He even recommended shopping at Thai Export Center which I though it was a whole sale center for branded fashions. He called over a tuktuk driver and bargained the price of 50 baht.

At Lucky temple, I met a local Thai man and engaged into conversation. He said he worked for Singapore Technology for the past 3 years. He came back to Bangkok in time for the prayers at Lucky temple and annual sales at Thai export. He claimed he was a monk in this temple for 12 years. He went further to say that it was a good investment to buy gemstones in Thailand and they would bring luck, etc.

Each person was allowed to purchase maximum 5 items. NO 200% govt and vat tax and an additional 30% off for promotion which valid 7 days a year. That same day, 21 Jul was the last day of promotion. He claimed Poh Heng, Lee Hwa and Soo Kee Jewelry Shope were their loyal customers. Needless to say, his story made it sound believable. I decided to visit the shop merely for curiosity and to kill time. My flight back to Singapore was in the afternoon.

We went to jewelry store, Yindee Lapidary Co., Ltd (address: 1091/75-77 Petchburi Rd , Soi 33 near Bangkok Palace Hotel), Makasan Bangkok , 10400 , Thailand . Tel: 02-253 1540-1. There I was persuaded to purchase a set of Blue Sapphire, Red Ruby pendant and a multi colourful ring at about SGD10,000

On my way to Airport, I felt uneasy and started to think of the whole event leading to the purchase of the gems. It was already too late! I have obviously fallen in prey of the scam group. The flashes of temple having to open only once a month is not possible, wholes sales center without any single soul in the shop, no interest in gem, never once purchase one, never like gem and custom jewelry, etc.

When I returned to Singapore on the same day, I brought the jewelry to my friend who works in a reputable jewelry shop in Singapore to evaluate on the value of my purchase. He told me those items were worth less than SGD2,000.

Immediately, I called UOB credit card companyto stop the payment. The operator told me that the bank cannot stop the payment and that I have to negotiate with the receiver, Yindee Lapidary Co., Ltd instead. No further assistance was given from UOB bank!

I went to Taka Jewelry Shop the next day and found out they have similar range of gems and the prices were so much cheaper. I decided to visit a Gemology Consultant to valuate on those items. It was valuated at SGD5.500 (retail price without discount) I felt absolutely foolish for what had happened.

I called UOB credit card company again. This time I insisted on my scam and the operator asked me to file for dispute charge. I thought we were protected with MasterCard and Credit Card Company. How can MasterCard and Credit Card Company allow these “black listed” stores to use its facilities in the first place? I hope the bank is investigating my case now.

After so many years and countless reports of similar scam incidents, these jewelry shops in Thailand still manage to use touts at tourist attractions to lure shoppers to their stores with false claims of huge discounts and promises that money can be made by reselling the gems back home. The gems purchased are genuine, but overpriced, many times higher then their actual value. This really spoilt the image of Thailand and the name of God, Buddha

I would like to inform you about the crooked sales tactics of this shop, Yindee Lapidary Co., Ltd and ask for your help in getting my money back (preferably 100%). I never like jewelry. I am wearing a pair of earring at the cost of SGD2. I am very disappointed that such incident happened to me.

This whole event has unfortunately ruined my wonderful holiday in Thailand .

I have made countless phone calls to Ms Garuna of Yindee Lapidary Co., Ltd. She asked for the valuation to be sent and promise to revert back to me. Till today, I was unable to contact her. I was careful about confronting this shop. It seems to be one of the key protected players in this decades-old scam and since such shops are maintained by the local mafia.

I hope to get full refund if possible. I would rather donate the money to temple. I am really stupid as to fall into this trap! Thanks for your kind attention to my email.

I really hope the tourist police, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thailand Embassy in Singapore can assist.

Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you and best regards,

Bernice

Stickman's thoughts:

Telling your story and emailing all of the authorities and agencies is a start.

The sad thing is that this scam has been running for 20+ years, the police know about it and frankly they do very little to stop it. One can but speculate as to why that is….

The more people you email about this, the more shit gets on the relative authorities' faces and hopefully one day it will come to an end. I am however not hopeful that it will happen in my lifetime….