Two New Thailand Scams
I haven't written in a while, but I have been reading the weekly column.
I hope things are going well for you. I take it you will be leaving Thailand this year. Will you be going to Vietnam?
I will probably be heading elsewhere as well. It feels like the entering class of 2002 has finally graduated.
Ok, now on to the new scams:
1. This scam I am going to describe has happened to me twice already, and twice to a friend.
It was about 10 PM near the corner of Ploenchit and Wireless Road. An Arab guy with a wife and child comes up to me and asks me where he can find an Italian restaurant. He says he just came from the airport and is from Dubai. He asks me where I was from. After I answered he says he has been to the US many times.
The guy asked if he could use US dollars to pay at the restaurant. He opened his wallet and showed me a large stack of 100 dollar bills. Then he asked to see what Thai money looked like. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a bill. It was 500 baht, so I put it back and pulled out another which turned out to be 100 baht. I let him see that one. Then he said he wanted to see what a 1,000 baht bill looked like. He reached into my pocket. He was quite aggressive but I pushed his hand away. Then he stopped and tried to make an excuse.
It was just hard to believe this guy would pull a stunt like this with his wife and child there. That is why I was confused when it was happening. But they are part of the scam. I feel sorry when adults use children like this (Of course, these adults may have been used like this when they were children).
When I told my friend about it, he told me that it happened to him twice, and the stories given to him were the same. They were Arab guys with a wife and child. My friend knew something was wrong and just walked away both times. But I was taken in for a few minutes this first time.
Fast forward to tonight: I was walking down Sathorn Road at about 11 PM and went in to use the gas station facilities. When I came out, another Arab guy with a child was right there. He gave me the exact same story (He's from Dubai. He asked where to find an Italian restaurant. He had just came from the airport.) This time I made sure there was over a meter between us so I'd have plenty of time to react in case he made a sudden move towards me. I put my hands on my hips as I talked with him. I was not menacing, but he could see I was not going to be an easy target. He thought better of it and left me alone.
Of course I should have walked away, but my curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see what he was going to do.
On my way back up Sathorn about an hour later, I saw him with two children, his wife, and at least seven police. He had gotten in to trouble with someone else. When he saw me he tried to get me to vouch for him. He ran to me and said, "Same same" as if we were old friends. He said, "They have a problem with me." I said, "I have a problem with you too."
Somebody else complained about him that night and the police found him and that is why they were there. I told the police what I thought and my experience. Then I left because they didn't need me.
2. On the corner of Sukhumvit 3/1 or 5 (I forget which), there is a vendor selling 128 Gbyte flash drives for 700 baht. I bought one and it didn't work (The computer said it was write protected, but it just didn't work.). He took it back and refunded my money.
Then I went to Pantip looking for a 128 Gbyte flash drive. I saw one for 2,000 baht from a store I trust, but I looked around a for a better price. On the second floor, I found a store run by some Burmese, who were selling a 256 Gbyte flash drive for 2,000 baht. They didn't work either. They took them back too and refunded the money.
I then did some research. I found that this is a scam and has been going around on E-Bay and even Amazon is selling these fake flash drives. There is free software which will analyze the drive to determine if it is fake.
I went to the legitimate Kingston outlet at Fortune and the 128 Gbyte USB 3.0 cost 7,000 baht. The 256 Gbyte cost 16,000 baht (USB 3.0).
I'd be curious to know if others have run into these scams.
The baby & wife scam has been taking place for years, maybe even decades. The flash drive scam has been around for at least a couple of years. I spotted them in Tuk Com in Pattaya a couple of years ago and the price for a high capacity flash drive was just so ridiculously cheap that I knew it could not be true – and Google proved that to be the case.