Falling for the Bangkok Gem Scam

bangkok gem scam

I never wanted to write about the Bangkok Gem scam. It’s embarassing. Only idiots fall for that, right? The same kind of idiots who get drunk and unknowingly bring ladyboys back to their room. But there’s something about Bangkok that brings the crazy and stupid out of people – and I was one of those.

I’m writing this post only because I watched Scam City a few weeks ago. The city they were highlighting was Bangkok. The episode was filmed last year (2012) and it covers the Gem Scam which surprisingly, exactly 10 years after I was scammed, is still going strong. Just like my encounter in 2002, the episode shows lots of tourists walking in and out of the gem shop (or “Export Center”) in question. There are tons of warnings in travel books about the Gem Scam and most tourists who have done their research should never fall for it. Somehow they still do.

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[Just as a little note in my defense before I tell this story: I knew nothing about the Gem Scam prior to going because I hadn’t done any reading on Bangkok, or Thailand, for that matter. I was supposed to be going on vacation to the Philippines with a new girlfriend. Suddenly 3 days before our departure, her overly-possessive father (a lawyer, he even had a criminal background check done on me), freaks out and tells his daughter she can’t go, that she risks getting kidnapped by Al Qaeda. She cries, tells me she has to cancel. Facing going alone, I relent and suggest that we go to Thailand instead. That’s how I ended up going to Thailand basically clueless].

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If you don’t have time to see the Scam City episode, I’ll give you a very quick summary of how the Gem Scam works:

1)      You, as a tourist, show up at the either the Grand Palace or Wat Po to see the sights. A friendly Thai approaches you and asks you where you are going. You tell him “I’m going to see the Grand Palace/Wat Po”. He tells you a variation of “Grand Palace/Wat Po closed today for construction/because monks are praying/because it’s a national holiday” (fill in one of the reasons). He might tell you that it’s closed for only a few hours for lunch.

2)      Your new Thai friend then proposes that you take a tour on a tuk-tuk to a few nearby temples (“go see Standing Buddha Temple/Lucky Buddha Temple/ Lying Buddha temple. Vely good”. He also slips in “and you go to Export Center, also vely good”. He conveniently has a tuk-tuk driver a few feet away who nods and says he’ll take you and that it won’t cost much (they’ll tell you 50 baht or so, which is under $2). You’re hesitant at first, but since your plans for the day have been ruined or delayed you say “ok”.

3)      The driver drives you around the old city which is quite nice. Maybe 5 minutes later you arrive at the first temple. Very quiet, no other tourists. You walk around, take a few photos, then get back into the tuk-tuk.

4)      He brings you to a 2nd temple. By this time you’re enjoying yourself, feeling relaxed, and thinking that taking this tour was a great idea. You walk around the temple. Somewhere, somehow, you meet someone who makes conversation with you. The person is friendly and speaks English. In the episode above, he is a middle aged Thai. Somewhere in the conversation the subject of the Export Center is brought up, something along the likes of “Have you been to the Export Center? No? You have to go, it is a special sale by government to promote tourism. The sale is only today and tomorrow, you get 30% off on gems. You can buy at half the price and sell in your country for double the value!”. He doesn’t do a hard sell but you are convinced, you have dollar signs in your eyes (“Hey, I can make enough money selling gems to pay for this vacation!”).

5)      The Export Center was the last stop on your tour anyway. The taxi driver asks you “Export Center?” you say yes.

6)      From then on it’s easy. He takes you to a large gem store which he says is the “Export Center” (you can’t tell anyway because you don’t read Thai). You’re a bit nervous at first but you see other foreigners in there so you relax, it’s obviously popular. You speak to a salesperson, find out what is on special and what is good value (“Blue Sapphires, only $3,000 for ring, necklace, earrings). You say “ok”. Gulp. You walk out of there with your gems looking forward to selling them at home for double the price.

7)      A few weeks later you get home, take them to a few jewelry stores where they look at you like you’re an idiot when they find out how much you paid for them. They examine them, tell you they are worth maybe $200. Your heart starts racing. You don’t know whether to believe them.

8)      You get a gemologist to appraise your gems and find out that they are indeed worth a fraction of what you have paid for them. Voila, you are a victim of the Gem Scam!

 

I saw the above mentioned episode and I wouldn’t have fallen for it. Our scammers were even smoother than the above.

In many respects my story was almost the same: The Thai man at the Grand Palace told us that it was closed for lunch, that it would be open again in 2 hours. Plenty of time for a little tuk-tuk tour. But the big thing, the thing that totally conned me, was the English speaking man we met. We were at the 2nd temple, the Lucky Buddha temple, when another tuk-tuk pulled up. In it was an American with a Thai friend (I thought they were a gay couple at the time, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with the story). We somehow got to speaking with the American; mid-20’s, from San Francisco. We compared travel notes, he told us the places he had been. He never even brought up the Export Center – I did. I asked him “This guy we met mentioned something about the Export Center. We’re not interested, but what’s that about?”. That’s when he started “Oh, the Export Center. Yeah, they sell gems at big discounts, I come here to visit once a year and I bring them back home to sell”. He then proceeded to pull out a box from his bag and show us some gems “See, you have to buy blue Sapphires, they’re famous here in Thailand and the best value back home”.

I didn’t get conned by a Thai, I got conned by a fellow tourist. I still can’t believe he was in on the scheme. The crazy thing was that 3 weeks later, back in Montreal, I met up with another couple who had been conned the same way – by the same guy!

Our Bangkok adventures got even crazier. After purchasing the gems, the “Export Center” arranged a tour for us. The rest of the day we were taken for; 1) a canal ride, 2) Thai massage (the real one where they crack your bones, not the one that includes a happy ending), 3) a night out for a Thai show. I remarked to the girl giving us this tour that the Thai government certainly was generous in the way they treated their guests. I don’t know how she kept a straight face.

So that’s how the Gem scam works. Please don’t comment telling me that I was an idiot and that I deserved it. I know. My only defense is that I was unprepared, as I mentioned above. It was also one of my first independent trips abroad, I would never fall for that today.

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Ps. Nothing happened with the ladyboy. I figured it out walking through the hotel lobby, the bright lights confirming what I had started to suspect. When a chick has an Adam’s apple that big you have to start to wonder…

 

If you like the above you might like this post: Ko Phi Phi – Paradise ruined

 

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Comments

  1. Linda Demars says:

    Gladly you didn’t fall for the scam of the “ladyboy”, he/she/whatever was after the family jewels….hehehe….good eye!

  2. Linda Demars says:

    You are funny!! Jim Carrey is a great comedian!

  3. Hello fellow Canadian! I’m about to confess something. I too saw that episode of scam city AND I too got into a tuk tuk in Bangkok BEFORE watching the episode!

    My story involves my husband, walking towards the Chao Phrya RIver. Gentleman says “Hey you are very tall”. Conversation about height begins(?!!)…”Hey you know you should go to this special temple because they are having a very rare ceremony today” Tuk tuk arrives out of no where. I say no thank you – husband says why not? We arrive at the temple and guess what? the ceremony is over….”well, while you are here why not go look at gems”.

    In Bangkok our code names for each other quickly became Scully and Mulder. (X-files – Trust no one) Funny thing was that it was the exact same temple as in the Scam City episode AND it was the same guy sitting inside the temple that was trying to get us to go to look at gems!!
    Mary Calculated Traveller recently posted…Kariya Park – A little bit of Japan in the suburbs of TorontoMy Profile

    • Hi Mary! Wow, small world eh? I like that you have code names, we’ll have to do same. For now I just get an elbow in the ribs from Spanky.

  4. Interesting, thanks for the heads up! There are unfortunately a million scams out there. It is good for up travelers to put all of them up so we are aware! Glad you made it home without the ladyboy :) Peace and best adventures to the both of you!

    PS Love me some hockey as well, I played for 12 years. I know, I know, hockey isn’t popular in Louisiana.

  5. Looks like you can never be too vigilant on the road. Such a shame these scams still go on after so long and that people still fall for them
    Ayngelina recently posted…Stenciled CuencaMy Profile

    • Hi Ayngelina – in hindsight I was pretty stupid and it was a rookie mistake (this was back in 2002). But I fell for it because I was screwed over by a fellow tourist, I would never have expected that. The amazing thing is that people are still falling for this scam now, over 10 years later.

      • I just got back from Thailand and I fell for it. Dammit. Live and learn, live and learn.

        • Hi Fiona – sorry to hear. Would love to hear more of your experience if you have time to share it!

          • I was in Bangkok for a day and a half last week and was heading out to Wat Pho when a really friendly man stopped to ask where I was going and if he could help me. I had already had a lot of people talking to me and being helpful without trying to get cash out of me so I was happy to talk to him. He told me Wat Pho was closed because the monks were praying but he gave some suggestions of other temples and told me that it was a special day and the government were sponsoring cheap tuk tuk rides. He suggested some temples and a market so I could see some Thai culture. That was the jewelry store. I felt pretty suspicious about the cheap tuk tuk but I checked the price several times and decided what the hell. I met someone at the first temple who was talking to me and then started telling me about an upcoming trip him and his family were taking to Sydney. He told me that he was paying for the trip by buying special discounted jewelry and then reselling it for much more in another country. He told me I should do it. I was totally unconvinced and nodded politely as he was giving me a hard sell on this. The next stop was a jewelry shop. This was actually a surprise as the guy who found me the tuk tuk had just mentioned this in the passing. This was the place I was going to see Thai culture. Whatever. I went in and had a look but didnt want to buy anything. I was still suspicious at this point and the sales ladies were really pushy which always puts me off. So I left and headed off to another temple. This time I met a Thai guy who claimed to be living and working in London. We were chatting and he asked how I got there. I said by tuk tuk and he said that he hoped I had gotten a good price as it was a special day. I told him I had. We started talking about the jewelry thing again and he encouraged me to buy something even if it was cheap and assured me that he did this every year and doubled his money. We had been talking about a lot of other things before this and he was nowhere near as pushy as the first guy. So he wrote down another jewelry store and I showed it to my tuk tuk driver and off we went. They were again quite pushy with me but the prices were a lot lower and I saw a pair of earrings for 3500 and thought hey why not give it a try? I ended up buying a bracelet for 6000 as well because I really liked it and off I went to see another temple and paid the driver the 20 baht we had agreed on. The next day I left my hotel and was once again told that Wat Pho was closed due to the monks praying and offered the exact same tuk tuk ride to the same temples. I told them I had already gone the day before and decided just to walk over to Wat Pho to see. Outside a tuk tuk driver told me I was going the wrong way for Wat Pho and I said that I heard it was closed. He told me that the man who said that was a scamp. Still no suspicions about the day before and I went and saw the temple. It wasn’t until I got home and looked online that I realised I had fallen for a scam. I intend to take the jewelry to get valued just to see as it could be fine. If it’s not then it’s not. It wasn’t too huge an amount. It was a pretty convincing scam with the placement of seemingly random people in the temples. In my defense I hadn’t planned on going to Bangkok so had done no research online before.

          • Interesting Fiona. What I’m getting from your story is that the different jewellery stores all put their own representatives in these various temples…so maybe you say “no” at one store but still get a sales pitch for another store when you’re taken to a different temple. In the Scamcity episode that I had mentioned the host never got to the bottom of how the scam worked, who was behind it and how they work with the different tuk tuk companies. But I remember one driver who went on camera saying he couldn’t talk about it, that he risked his life if he did. There were also some suggestions that the police were somehow involved. Wouldn’t be shocked if they were – I find it amazing that this scam is still going strong after all these years (I was scammed back in 2002, that’s now 11 years ago…).
            Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. Something to look out for when we’re in Bangkok next month – thanks for the nod. I’ve heard that the Grand Palace is very rarely closed – just for the occasional ceremony.
    Suzanne (Travelbunny) recently posted…Hagia Sophia – The Essence of IstanbulMy Profile

  7. My boyfriend and I just got back from Bangkok last night and start reading all these posts. We are terrified now and are looking for all possible ways to recover the entire sum of money.
    we are glad that we have some thai friends and that we read a lot chinese posts about how chinese and taiwan people got their refund back as well.
    Before the worst case scenario where we will have to take the gem back to Bangkok my friend will try to help us out.
    I always know thai people are really nice especially the taxi driver who returned my lost mobile phone to us the previous day.
    I suppose Chinese and Taiwan people are quite smart and act quick on recovering the money asfar as I’ve read online. Until our case is successful I suppose I should not post other people’s info quite yet.
    Good luck to all and beware Thailand is quite dangerous as well.

    • Beanie – your best bet is the Thai department of internal affairs. I previously wrote about our 2002 experience and the process we went through: “I attempted to get a refund but this is a very difficult process if you’ve already left the country. I put a lot of pressure on the Thai tourist police (totally useless), the Thai Gem & Jewellers association (never heard a word) and The Thai Consulate in Ottawa (never heard a word.) The best bet is the Thai department of Internal Affairs who can ‘negotiate’ with the jeweller for a refund. The Canadian Consulate in Bangkok was also quite helpful. These stores however operate under a given name for a very short time – 2 weeks after our return (6 weeks after our purchase) we found out that ‘Thai Mining Ltd’, otherwise known as ‘Export Center’ closed its doors”. Assuming nothing has changed, I would try to contact them asap.

      • Vivek Sharma says:

        Hi,

        Can you tell me the appropriate way how, I can resolve and refund my money. I have already left for my country (India) from Bangkok.

        Regards
        Vivek Sharma

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Hi Vivek,
          Firstly, did you pay by credit card? If so contact the credit card company and see what they tell you.

          Secoundly, contact the Thailand Tourist Police: http://www.siam-info.com/english/police.html

          I’m sorry to tell you chances of getting your money back when you’ve left the country are poor. Check comments 13 (Kevin) and 19 (Teresa) who ended up getting their money back.

          Once outside the country, I’m afraid the above is the best info I can give.

          Good luck!

          • Vivek Sharma says:

            Hi Frank,

            Yes I paid through credit card. I have discussed to bank already, they can’t do anything now, since the payment is successfully done already. I have send an email email in this regard to seller. He is ready to refund the amount and asking me to courier the ring to Bangkok, as per his email. Is it advisable to do?

            Regards
            Vivek Sharma

          • Frank (bbqboy) says:

            I can’t really tell you because there are a lot of companies and some are shadier than others. But if he sent you an email it is a good sign, most would have ignored you. If you send him the ring, make sure to get a signed receipt proving that he received it. And keep a copy of his email. That way it can be proven that he both a) promised to give you a refund and b) received the ring. Again though, the problem with these companies is that he can close up the store and open under a new name weeks later. Then he has both the money and the ring. So it is a risk you take…

            Please let me know what you decide and how it turns out. Would be a happy ending if you can get your money back…

  8. Hey Guys
    It happened to us too! ‘Grand Palace is closed because the monks are praying’!
    Thankfully we knew pretty early on, looked on the bright side of it and went along for the ride, We didn’t part with a penny much to our driver’s disappointment…check out our experience http://itstartedinasia.com/2013/08/tourist-scam-at-bangkoks-grand-palace/
    Great post :)
    Anna McPherson recently posted…Top 5 Things To See In Hue, Vietnam, And The Best Way To See Them.My Profile

  9. It happened to me too, The location was near the exit of Golden Buddha, the place i planned to go is “ChinaTown”, the reason to stopped me enter in was “most shops is closed till 1:00 PM”, the “export center“ turned to be “Thai Factory”, the temple was “Lucky Buddha”, the gem was “Orange Sapphire”. But luckily, the only one deceived me eventually was the tuk-tuk driver. I didn’t realised that he was in the scam team too. I thought his work is more than 50b, so i gived him three 20 bahts and a “keep the change”.

    • Hi Zhou – yes, the Lucky Buddha temple seems to be the favorite of the scammers. Glad to hear you were smart enough to avoid the trap!

  10. I had a similar experience with someone walking up to me near the Golden Mount and another temple near there that had been commissioned by Rama III. Fortunately I did not fall for the scam and just said that even if the temple was closed for renovations I still wanted to take a few photos from the outside before going anywhere else. I then decided to leave through a different exit after spending a fair amount of time at the obviously open temple. I decided to walk to the next temple on my list and found this much smaller, not well known temple almost next to the well known one with the Rama III statue outside. The one half appeared to be under maintenance/renovation, no one seemed bothered by me coming in. I found a temple with a Buddha in it and a man sitting at the entrance. He was friendly and asked where I was from. Then he asked me how I heard about the temple as it is not well known, despite the official sign outside in both Thai and English, and what looked like monks staying on the property, I said that I saw it when I walked by and asked if he could tell me more about the place. All he said was it was the lucky Buddha and then continued to read his newspaper. I took some photos and left. When I got back to where I was staying I looked up the lucky Buddha on the Internet for more info and just saw posts about it being a scam. So now I am left wondering if that was a real temple after all or if it was a scam set up and I just wasn’t the guy’s target as I walked off of the street. I was not approached again until I got to Wat Pho and the Grand Palace and that was by tuk tuk drivers whom I just brushed off and continued walking to where I was headed.

    • Interesting! I think you hit it on the head – he didn’t have the tuk-tuk guy to co-ordinate the whole scam with. Also sounds like he was surprised that you just showed up, I think most of the tourists that go to the Lucky Buddha temple have been brought there by would-be scammers. Thanks for sharing the story Roxanne!

  11. Negative review of “Maiden Massage” on Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd., near Surawong Road in Bangkok. http://www.maidenmassage.com

    This was my experience:
    The English-speaking male tout pulled me in from the sidewalk, and offered me a “..young beauty special friendly girl for special massage..”. Ok, so I assumed that clearly meant your usual naughty massage.

    I paid in advance 800-THB for the 1-hour. After I paid, the tout made a point of saying to me, “..you tip her extra, if she do all OK for you..”. That also seemed clear enough to me. The young cutie washed my feet and took me up the elevator to the 5th Floor. After I showered, the young girl re-appeared, and I initiated the usual negotiations trying to determine her limits and what it was going to cost me in “tips”.

    Big Zero. Not even a fully clothed hand job… there wasn’t any sex service available at any price. The tout then re-appeared and explained that “..there was a misunderstanding, that really they don’t offer any sex services of any kind there..” The tout asked if I wanted to cancel, and I said yes, and I put my clothes on, and went back downstairs to the desk and stood there. Big dumb blank stares all around. The tout refused to refund all, or even a portion, of my 800-THB.

    We strongly recommend against Maiden Massage.

    …and I’m a pretty nice guy, and I’ve lived here a long time. Normally these scum bag parasites at the knockin’ shops don’t cheat me quite this bad, but this guy clearly offered “special”, when in fact that isn’t what they do at this place… This particular tout-monkey had an odd look about him, and he spoke English well enough.

    I promised him that I would list my review on every forum on the planet, and I’m just getting started… If I can cut out even a tiny bit of his Japanese package tour business, it will be beau coups more than 800-THB…
    Gai recently posted…Welcome to Maiden Spa & MassageMy Profile

    • Hmmm…I’ll have to start a new post titled “Falling for the Bangkok Handjob Scam” :)

      My only question reading this: are you sure this ‘tout’ represented Maiden Spa & Massage? Because looking at the site it seems like a legid place, not the kind of place where you go in looking for sex. Those places are usually pretty obvious. I wouldn’t trust any tout. Maybe you should have spoken to the people who actually worked at the Spa?

      Thanks for the comment – it’s a bit off topic but might be of use to some readers.

  12. Gem Scam happened in 31New Rama 6th Road, Tanonphetchaburi, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400
    Last winter break on Dec,14th,2013. I went to Bangkok with my 13 years old son; he had a base ball game with Bangkok international School. We visit some temples; one of them is named “Lucky Buddha Temple”. A very nice man around 40’s came to approach us, his English is much better than local people. When he knew we were from U.S, he said he used to live in California. After we visit the temple, he seems very nice and help us get a Tuk-Tuk to go back to hotel, then he told us there is a The Export Center(Color Gem) was on the way when I back to hotel.
    Tuk-Tuk driver directly sent us to the store. I was asking for a untreated nature ruby earrings. The sales men Golf recommended this pare of “untreated nature rube earring” to me. It cost me few thousand USD.
    When I back to home, I took my earrings to a few jewelry stores where they look at me like I am an idiot when they find out how much I paid for it. My heart starts racing.
    I got a certified gemologist check and appraise my gems and found out that they are indeed worth a fraction of what I paid for them. It is not nature untreated ruby but a cheap sapphire. Now I am a victim of the Gem Scam!

    • I’m sorry to hear that Catherine. Same temple as us!
      I’ve read a lot of other stories and the best thing to do is to go to the police if you’re still in the country. Unfortunately most people have left by the time they figure out that they’ve been duped. In this case, the Thai department of Internal Affairs is your best bet, they can’t ‘negotiate’ with the jeweler for a refund. Unfortunately in our case the jeweler had closed down – that’s what they do, then they re-open under a different name.
      Since yours was quite recent maybe you can try that suggestion?
      Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. I fell for this last 2 weeks ago, very first day in Thailand, on the very first place we got off the tourist boat. Friendly guy stopped us, tuk tuk, temple, no tax, etc,etc,etc.

    So,so obvious when you know, but I was caught unawares and me and my wife were the naive enthusiastic tourists, prime target!! When I eventually come to the realisation what had happened I was in Chiang mai. I was so annoyed with myself and really gutted, I couldn’t even look at the ring anymore.
    I was due to fly to krabbi via bangkok, and thought I need to at least try to get a refund before I left the country, otherwise it would drive me insane! So I booked a later flight to krabbi and went to tourist police at bangkok airport, they brought me to the Tourism authority where I made a complaint. They contacted the jewellers Color Gems and they said they would refund 100%, so jumped in a taxi and got it to wait outside for me. I had read a lot of stories about how dodgy these places were (since I bought the ring) and how police are paid in some areas to protect them, so I was a bit nervous! When we got there, they brought me into the side room and said they would give me a credit note as thai banking system would not allow them to refund onto a credit card. I didn’t believe them, as I had read on another blog that they received a credit note that didn’t come through after they had left the country.

    Said I couldn’t accept this, and tried to ring tourism authority and tourist police several times, but couldn’t get through!!! Sod’s law! Then I rang my credit card company for advice and they said accept it and if it didn’t go through, their team would go after the money. So I left very dubious it would be refunded.

    However a few days later it was in my bank, a harsh lesson learned!!!

    • Vivek Sharma says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Is it advisable to accept the credit note in case the buyer has left the country while the seller is asking to send the ring by courier, please advice?

  14. Also, my wife was sitting in the taxi outside the jewellery shop ( color gems 31 new Rama 6th road), must have been there for about 45 minutes. She said there was a constant stream of tuk tuks bringing tourists there. It is a large scale operation!!

    We were warned about the scam in our krabbi and chiang mai hotels, unfortunately the one that mattered in bangkok, we weren’t! I think tour operators and hotels should do more to make people aware.

    • Thank you so much for your comment Kevin – you basically did everything right and other people reading this will benefit from it I hope. Glad to see you got all your money back, great story.
      Yeah, it really is a large scale operation and it’s unbelievable that it is still going on now. Imagine, it was 2002 when it happened to me and even then it was in the guidebooks. Now 12 years later still going strong.

      Again, thanks so much Kevin.

      • Vivek Sharma says:

        Hi Admin, can I have the email id of Kevin for some clarification

        Regards
        Vivek Sharma

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Hi Vivek,
          I’m sorry, I can’t give out the email addresses of other respondents. But I would do what Kevin did – which is contact your credit card company (as he did). Reading his comment I don’t think he can tell you more than that either.
          Again, I’m sorry, but the privacy of each commenter is guaranteed and I can’t give out his information.

  15. I would like to share a scam story that happened to me a few days ago. I was in Bangkok wandering around like a lost tourist and sat down next to a tree to read my map. Few minutes later, a lady approached me and carried out the routine small talk. She recommended that I visit the Lucky Buddha temple in Makasan (sp?) and she helped me pick a few out tourist spots. Since I was set on visiting the temples anyway, I decided to check out this supposed Lucky Temple which was only open that day.

    She put me in a tuk-tuk, told the driver where to go and kept saying 40 baht repeatedly like it was some sort of a code word. The driver duly obliged and took me to this Lucky Buddha temple. The place was secluded and shortly after I stepped in, a gentleman came inside and sat down next to me. Told me about the rituals, etc.

    Just as I was about to get up, he grabbed my hand and started telling me how this Buddha was more than a 100 years old and that people visited it to bless their gems/jewels. He told me about sapphires and how they helped couples conceive children, how they helped single men (like me) find true love, how they helped business owners, you get the point? I was gullible enough to listen to it.

    He got his card out, a Law firm card to gain my trust, and wrote down the name of an export shop that specialised in sapphire – Manee Diamond – and that because it was Buddha’s day, there would be a 30% discount. Same routine. The gentleman put me in the same tuk-tuk and told the driver to take me to the shop.

    I arrived at this place in the middle of a secluded alley. It was very nicely presented and had all the tourism certificates, Visa/MC/Amex certified logos. I went in and the staff were very friendly. After spending a good half hour being told what each gem meant, and how they brought you luck and so on, I was in a buying frame of mind. The ring I chose was supposed to be 38,500 Baht and then discounted by 30%. I said that I had very little cash and that my max would be 16,000 Baht. This next part is where I was convinced/fooled because the lady said they would never consider selling below 25,000 Baht (the supposed cost price) and that she would have to ask her boss.

    A moment later, her boss arrived and said that we could make a deal for 16,700 with a Visa or MasterCard. I didn’t have either and only had an American Express card. They said they would have to pay charges and I stupidly decided to cover those. Deal down, I signed for 17,000 and they would deliver the ring at my hotel in an hour.

    So then, the lady arrived at my hotel and gave me the ring, certificate and sent me a very happy man. My friend, who I was travelling with, is a diamond merchant and said (at first glance) that the ring looks legit. I got back to Hong Kong and out of conscience, decided to have it checked. Boom! Scammed.

    I checked the receipts and one was paid to Manee DIMOND and the certificate said DIAMOND. They also had different MDRS numbers 1441 and 1411.

    It was my first time in Bangkok but it’s a lesson learned. I am currently fighting the dispute and will update you all once American Express get back to me.

    • Thanks for sharing the story, amazing how similar it is to mine and how it keeps happening over and over again to different tourists. You’d think the Thai police would have clamped down on it by now.

      Good luck, please let me know how you make out!!

      • Am more disappointed by the fact that I fell for something so stupid as opposed to losing the money. The money can easily be replaced but the images of the woman & man who played in on this will forever be etched in my memory.

        American Express have filed a dispute case for me but it will take a minimum of 6-8 weeks which is a joke in itself. They probably expect me to give up any hope by then. Either way, I’ll come back then and let you know.

        Have a good weekend.

        • Yes, this is an experience that can make one sour on a place…
          I hope Amex doesn’t give you the run around. If anything like my experience (which was a long time ago) these places don’t stay open long and they may be gone by the time American Express actually does anything. I’ll be interested in what they end up telling you but I wouldn’t hold too much hope…Any chance you’ll be going back to Bangkok? If you look at some of the above comments, particularly No. 13 from Kevin, you may see some good advice on getting your money back. Even if you’re not going back, maybe a good idea to write the Tourism Authority.
          Let me know if you get any news!

    • How did your dispute go? The place I got scammed call themselves “Manee Thai”. Same store, fooled, scammed, thinking of flying back to refund. $350 flight is worth it to get my $9,000 back.

      • Frank (bbqboy) says:

        OUch!! $9000. That hurts. Do it real quick. Read comments by Vivek, comment 7 (in the replies) and 29. He was able to get money back through his credit card company and is helping other people in the same situation. You’ll see his contact details under comment 29. Or, if you’re back in Bangkok, go see the Tourist Police ASAP.
        Good luck, please let me know how it works out.

        • I contacted Vivek. Helped a lot. After talking to the merchant to get a settlement unsuccessfully, I called my credit cards to dispute the claim with Manee Thai. The jeweler didn’t like that, but I still have the contract that says “80% refund within 1 month of purchase”. The only problem is that the jewelery is about 15% of the purchase price and they will get the jewelry back. I calling attorneys in Bangkok, one of them offered to get a 100% refund for $1000, which is similar to 80% refund. So I’m deciding to buy a $300 plane ticket, stay in a $10/night hotel, and it seems to be a good idea to go to the tourist police once I get to the airport. I’ll file a criminal report even if it is just a waste of time and ask them to escort me to the jewelry shop. I’ve written down all the valuation information as evidence so I can easily show the police and the merchant that they lied when they said the jewelry is discounted and worth 1/3 of the price in Korea. I’m leaving for Thailand in a few days. I hope it will all be over soon and my funds will be back.
          Details:
          Purchase – $6,220
          Max. Retail in Korea – $2,500-$3,000
          Sales Clerk Pitch – 1/3 of Retail which should be $826-$987
          Since I was told by the scammer at the temple and the jewelry store clerk that it was the last day of the promotion, I didn’t allow myself the usual time it takes to research the value of the jewelry. I will never make that mistake again. I would rather miss out on an opportunity than find myself in this mess again. Live and learn, forgive, and move on.

          In Jesus’ name, I pray for them that the holy spirit touches their hearts and renews their minds and hearts into the likeness of Christ. The old is gone, the new has come. Anyone, anyone can be renewed by God through his one and only son. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%205:17

          • Frank (bbqboy) says:

            Thanks for the update Eric, glad to hear you’re getting resolution on this :)

          • I was also scammed in simmilar manner on 17th of August 2015 at MANEE THAI.
            Pretty much the same story- you should visit the Lucky buda temple first because others are closed- take a tuk-tuk ride- random people aproaching in temples and talking about special promotion of thai culture today- they sell it duble price in London/Shangai-school their children, pay off the trip to Thailand from Sydney….
            At the end I bought that ring with all the cash money I got with me and some from my credit card.
            It took me 3 weeks to check the price of the ring, and when I googled MANEE THAI I was shocked… I also signed that I can return it for 80% of the price. As I live really far and cannot aford another trip is there a possibility I et the return without travel? And the other problem was that I payed in cash… :( any suggestions would be welcome. How did it end up for you Eric?
            Ines recently posted…Our Taste Hungary inspired Budapest Food Tour. How we saved big bucksMy Profile

          • Frank (bbqboy) says:

            Hi Ines,
            Paying cash might be the problem. I’ll suggest the same thing I suggested to Eric – contact Vivek (comment 29) who had a recent experience and got his money back. His full story is under comment 7. I believe the reason for his success however was that he was able to get his money back through the credit card company.
            Otherwise I would suggest contacting the Thai Tourist Police however they seem to be useless if you’ve already left the country.
            I’m sorry, really tough if you’re trying to do it from outside the country when you’ve paid cash.
            Please let me know if you are able to get anywhere.

  16. We didn’t fall for the tuk tuk scam, but my husband tried to. Same deal, on our way to the Grand Palace, trying to find the entrance. Tuk tuk driver seemed really nice and said it was closed until the afternoon. I was pulling my husband away while my husband kept saying, “he’s trying to help us.” I’m the planner in the family, so I knew about the scam. I had told Rome to beware, but he forgot. Thankfully we weren’t taken in.
    Katherine Belarmino recently posted…10 Top Copenhagen ExperiencesMy Profile

  17. I have never heard of this scam and realize how easy it would be to fall for it. Although think the similar model is used in many countries
    Mik – UDrive recently posted…The Travel Guide to Thessaloniki, GreeceMy Profile

  18. Sorry to hear about the gem scam :( That really sucks. Makes our loss of $1500 seem like pennies. http://www.goatsontheroad.com/day-1500-stolen-us/

    Oh well, you live, you learn!

    Cheers and happy travels :)
    Dariece recently posted…The Day When… We Had $1,500 StolenMy Profile

  19. Hello,

    First of all I want to thanks all this information you’ve posted in internet. I was last week in Bangkok and I experienced more or less the same as you, friendly man on the street, those temples are closed, better to go to others and tuc-tuc and a man in the buda temple. I was taken to Color Gems store which looked correct and I bought a pendant with citrine stone and white gold, and also a white gold chain. I paid 10,500 Baths and I got the certificate of natural stone. Since everything was very strange, I google ‘Color Gems’ and I’ve read your experiences. I was staying in Bangkok for a couple of days so I had to do something, first I check stone quality with Thai Gem & Jewellers association and even if they did not ensure me that was a syntetic stone, they told me, we guess it is syntetic but we are not 100% sure. Then I went to the police to make the complain and the police phoned the Jewellers store and after I went there to give back the pendant and the chain and to get money back. I paid with amex and they refund the amount I’ve paid also with amex in minutes and I’ve got money back.

    The last day in Bangkok I was going to visit golden mount, and AGAIN the same man approaching to me!!, he did not recognize me but was againg hunting. When he recognized me, he run again. I felt ok since I did what I though I had to do.

    Thanks for your comments and I hope this information is useful for other visitors to Bangkok

    • That is a great story and makes my day – its exactly the reason that I did this post. Glad I could help you out and thanks for sharing your story with others. You did everything right in getting your money back!

  20. I was scammed the similar way also about 10 years ago, end of the day, I did a research and with my Thai counter part – friends found out that the syndicate was backed by a very powerful Military official. I dig further and also found that many tourist whom ever scammed made report of this store and the police could do anything. While many other jewel store will close and reopen with another name again when too many tourist makes their report. This particular store never moved or close.

    • Thanks Lyn. Yes, they suspected as much on Scam City but had no proof and people in on the scam didn’t want to talk, mostly out of fear. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if somebody high up is or was involved..I just can’t understand why after all this time this is still happening.

  21. Hi Frank and other,

    Thank you for sharring your stories. It almost happend to me as well. I was with my boyfriend in Thailand 3 weeks ago. We made only 1 day trip to bangkok – as we didn´t have any tourist map we asked one guy on the street where is some tourist centre. He told us that he is Thai teacher and as it´s National day of Budha, tourist centre is closed. He wrote us on paper few places where to go and arranged for us tuk tuk with polite driver who promise to take us to these places for 20 BHT. We agreed and thought how lucky we are with this nice “thai teacher”. First he took us to “Lucky Budha Temple”. And of course we met there one guy who told us story how this is last day to buy some gems with discount (200 % tax free) and that we can sell it at home with 100 % profit. So driver took us to “Export centre”. As we had limited budget and we didn´t trust to these people we didn´t buy anything. We asked our driver to take us to some station from which we can go to the airport. Luckily he did it without any problems. I said to myself I will check these gems offers on google when we will be back at home. I found soo many stories and information about these bangkok scams that i was really suprised. It can really happen very easily to everyone !

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you for your story Paulina. They should really put a sign up at the Lucky Buddha Temple, something like “You have probably been brought here to be scammed for gems. Doing so will be very unlucky”. It seems to be the place most tourists are approached for the scam. I still can’t believe this goes on, every year, same place, without anyone official having done anything about it.

  22. Hey Frank! Thanks for sharing and also detailing specifically the steps that these scammers take :) And it’s also not easy to come out and mention one has been scammed, pretty embarassing haha.. I got scammed in Ho Chi Minh but that’s for another day. Anyway! If you are headed to Thailand any time soon, I do have a list of 21 most common scams in Thailand (http://travelscams.org/asia/21-common-scams-thailand/), if you are interested, do check it out and protect yourself from these shrewd street scammers.

  23. This is totally nuts isn’t it – I’m so glad you shared it with us so that we can avoid this happening. When I went to Bangkok, something similar could have ended up happening – we were heading to Grand Palace, a random lady started talking to us telling us it was closed etc etc and that if we come with her, we can see something else soon – fortunately,we got a hunch quite early on that this sounded a bit suspicious so made tracks (and of course everything was open as it should be). Amazing how these con-artists still manage to get away with it and so sorry to hear you fell victim to it. Live and learn I guess!
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  24. Scary stuff here. I got scammed today. Some friends and I are vacationing here in Thailand and it was our last day in Chiang Mai. We entered the old city to make our way to the temples. As we were going back to retrieve a friend who was in the process of getting a tattoo a friendly thai gentleman approached who spoke excellent English and persuaded us to stay away from the night bazaar because that is where all the tourist went. He told us the temples would be closed until 5:30 and that we were lucky because it was a national holiday and the monks would be involved in some special ceremony after that time.

    He suggested we go to some places called Umbrella, Shinawatra Silk and Gem Gallery. He told us it was only 15 minutes outside of the old city and it would cost 300 baht to get there unless we spoke thai. All of a sudden a tuk-tuk pulled up and the two men were negotiating a price for us to go. We thought the thai gentleman was so friendly because he talked the driver down to 120bht. All was well and good until we arrived at the Gem Gallery. I wanted to buy a birthday present for one of my dear Thai friends who happens to live in Bangkok. Her birthday was in July and since I had an opportunity to come visit her I wanted to get her something nice. I happened to purchase a ruby necklace and small chain 14k gold for 12,500 bht. ($400+usd) After reading some of the earlier stories I guess I didn’t fare as bad as others, but still embarrassed that I got duped. Learning experience indeed!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Sorry to hear that John! But that’s a new twist – every other story I’ve ever heard happened in Bangkok. I guess someone figured out there’s money to be made…
      Thanks for sharing your story, I’m sure it’ll help out some people.

  25. My bf and I had the same encounter yesterday.. Lucky buddha, 50 baht tuk ride, finally the jewel and followed us to hotel to get my credit card… Luckily we manage to escape them and never even paid for the ride back to hotel… =]

    These people should be put behind bars..

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Good for you for catching on and having the balls to ditch them ;)

      • I got scammed in 1990 , on Silom rd, i was just walking and a guy approached me to practice his English. As soon as i paid they hustled me out of the shop , i knew something was wrong. i asked at the hotel reception and they laughed, almost commending the scam. No Jewellery shop would look at them, i went back the next day and they got violent and i feared for my life..to this day it was the most humiliating experience ever. Thailand is full of crooks and duplicity..never get close to a Thai they will take you for everything. in 2000 i saw the same guy operating his scam on Silm rd opposite the police sation, it was then i knew the police allow it, they are the originators..

        Thanks for starting this thread.xxx

        • Just to update..after Bangkok i went to koh samui, and if you mentioned gem scam in group typically Guys would get defensive and say its BS, ‘ I’m now an import/export goon’ and girls would start crying…this scam stopped many holidays for the young traveller, many dreams and left people with the world in front of them helpless and broken ….there was and still is not enough info available , its a crime Thailand is to be treated with extreme contempt. Lets not forget Thailand is an affluent country, many fruits/natural resoures agricultural and valid tourism yet they bread this scam form the get go…
          There was a couple who even went to the post office saw the GEMS it posted to their home address and after paying 3k USD (in 1990) a lot of money) and then nothing arrived. I know this as i told them it was a scam in K Samui, they did not believe me (in denial) and the wrote me a letter. Just think about the high level scam this is…the government/post office/police/MP’s/Customs et al…. assist on this whole scam…its still operating today…how do you stop it..by not going to Thailand..as you are flogging a dead horse other wise.

          • Frank (bbqboy) says:

            Thank you for the comment John. Yes, you are right – it does go to the highest levels and if someone was serious enough about it it would no longer exist. 1990 for you, 2002 for me…and we were just in Bangkok and someone tried it on me again.
            Thai’s think we are all rich and that if we fall for such a scam we deserve it. I think that it the believe behind everything. As a foreigner you’ll always have Thai’s trying to scam you and it is tiring…too much tourism, too easy, no reason to do anything. I think you many valid points.

  26. This is still going on guys. Went to Golden Buddha yesterday 27/03/2015 and a friendly guy stopped to ask where I was going to which I said Grand Palace. Same story was given to me for 40 bhat drive to lucky buddha, whch I did. A friendly Thai guy was there and apparently he worked for the Thai Embassy in London and wasflying out that night. He started telling me about the gem expo to which I was least interested so I walked off.
    thank god formy stingy nature(lol) that i told him strictly not interested , then the tuk tuk driver said i should take a boat trip to grand palace , i was like nope, either you take me there or I catch another tuk tuk to which he agreed.
    I was not aware of this scam till now.
    well gotta thank my guiding angle for looking after me .

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Good for you! Thanks for sharing the story, that’s a good one.Thai embassy on London huh? They sure know how to bullshit…

  27. It is always reassuring to know that you’re not alone in falling for the scam. Although we didn’t purchase anything, we got taken on a ride & pressured to buy a custom suit at several stores.

    Check out our write up on our experience:
    http://moneyleftfortravel.com/the-lucky-buddha-scam-bangkok/

  28. Hi guys, yesterday the same happened to me ( lucky Buddha, a stranger starts telling about the expo where i can get the blue Saphire for half the price etc..). I bought a ring, back in the Hotel the same day i read all this here and realised what happend. Today i went to the tourist police, make a report and then went back to gems color to get my money back. They kept 5% of the price and said they will send the Rest back to the crédit card. I guess i am lucky with these 5%. I hope there wont be many other people getting fooled

  29. Hi,

    Greetings !!! I have recovered my money from burglars. I have already share my story on this blog. This incident happened on 30 March 2015.

    NOW i WANT TO HELP THE OTHERS, IF THERE IS ANYBODY HAVING ANY ISSUE WITH COLOR GEM BANGKOK PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

    I will advice you and assist you at my best.

    Kudos to me!!!

    Remember never let your money for these thief’s.

    For any other detail you can contact me at vivekuna@gmail.com Also you can call me at +91-93563-07020.

    Admin (Frank), please provide my details to anybody who need help in this regard. I will be happy to help, since I can understand this pain.

    Regards
    Vivek Sharma

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Congratulations Vivek! Nice of you to offer help. I’m of course posting this here for others but will also keep in mind if a fresh case comes along.

      • Vivek Sharma says:

        Thanks Frank, There is a small correction in the email Id I have mentioned above, please edit if possible i.e. vivekuna@gmail.com.
        It is my pleasure if I can help someone, as you are doing.

        Regards
        Vivek Sharma

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Done, I’ve corrected.
          Thanks again Vivek.

        • Hi Vivek, I just realised y’day we had also fall into the same trap after touched down to our country. We were in Chinatown the last Friday morning, while finding the direction to the shopping street, we were being approached by a guy who spoke fluent English (exactly same tricks of what people comments here). We were then brought to ‘Lucky Buddha’ and ‘met’ the same guy in the temple, age around in late 40s, pretended very friendly and chit-chatting with my husband to share the story of the temple.

          When we got up to tuk tuk to next temple, he then came and asked us where the driver will bring us to? And strongly recommended us to the Gems shop for a look, we were than brought to the Gem shop name ‘Peter Nang’ and I have bought a gem stone pendant for 3000bath (my husband found the price is acceptable and I quite like the design so we bought it).

          The tuk tuk then brought us to a very expensive local restaurant for lunch (taste is so so but a normal plate of Pathai or any normal dish is priced minimum 200bath), I got a shocked when saw the price but to me it’s alright since we don’t ordered lot of foods and since we were there. He then later brought us to IFC Tailor shop (the driver was very polite as asked us for a favor and not necessary to buy but helped him to stay at the shop for 10-15mins). The sales man whom name PK is very good sweet talker and kept telling to my husband how good is their blouse and trousers. My husband ended up made 3 blouse and 1 trouser at 5000bath. But they did delivered to our hotel on that day in night hour.

          We are back to our country on Sat mid night but never think for we got scammed until last night before went to bed, I just google IFC out of curiosity, saw they have quite a number of bad comments in trip advisor (there are some good comments apart from bad). Google further for other information on the tuk tuk in bangkok and realised we had got scrammed as what we have met was exactly the same people is commenting online. What a goosh!!!

          May I seek your advise for the gem pendant I’ve purchased in Peter Nang which I paid 3000bath. Do you think I got scam but after reading numerous post from people who got scammed, the amount they paid all seems to be in USD and huge sum (may I know how much you got cheated?)

          • Frank (bbqboy) says:

            Yikes!! It sounds like you were everybody’s favorite tourist that day!!

            3000 baht is about $100 US. If you like it just think of it as an expensive souvenir. Yes, it is probably fake, but if you like it and you only paid about $100 it is no big deal. I paid $3000 US (!!) for ring, earrings, and a pendant. It was supposed to be pure blue sapphire but was in reality a composite worth about $200 retail.

            Next time you go to Bangkok please don’t listen to touts. They are all liars and you fell for all the scams that they typically try to get you for (tailor shop, gem, expensive restaurant – they only one you missed was the ping pong show where they’ll present you with a huge bill at the end of the night :) ). I’ve been to Bangkok many times and every time there is a new trick. Please don’t listen to anyone next time.

            But you only paid $100 for the gem and a bit more for the tailor. I would not lose sleep over those amounts.

            Thank you for sharing your story. Sorry about your unpleasant trip.

        • Hi Vivek

          Many thanks for posting. We were taken exactly like the other stories but thanks to you emailed suggestions we have been offered ful refund through credit note. We have seen a copy of the credit not. Now just waiting with fingers crossed that it is a genuine offer and the money will appear in our account.
          Wish there had been more warning from holidays companies and hotels!

  30. I thought you might like to now that this scam was around when I first went to Bangkok in 1988! I fell for it (as there was no internet to research, no websites, no lovely bloggers warning about it!!) but I didn’t actually buy any gems. I was with my boyfriend and we were told the Grand Palace was closed for a National holiday but wouldn’t we like a tuk tuk tour. Exactly the same procedure. We were take to a gem store where as we were backpacking students we really couldn’t afford anything and stood firm. When we refused to buy things got quite nasty and they threatened us. Wee were left stranded in some distant part of Bangkok, left to make our own way back to the centre and it was pretty scary! That was my first day of independent travel in Asia as a 20 year old! It didn’t put me off travel though, but it is amazing how long the scam has been going!!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Wow – I’m amazed both by how similar it was and by how mean they were.
      And yes,27 years later its still happening.
      Thanks for sharing this Phoebe.

  31. Hi all.
    It happened to me too when I was in BKK dated Jun 29 2015. Almost the same stories like most of you been posted, a friendly Thai English speaking at middle age, telling you today is your SUPER LUCKY day and recommended few temples that you MUST go since you are so lucky blar blar blar …. then when we reached one of the quiet temple with no other tourists or local people, here came with another guy approaching you with all kind of sweet talk and sharing on his career and family and HOW he earns those $$ every year that could afford to support his 2 daughters to Spore International school. We were really lucky on that day because we met one of the tourist from HK when we were in the shop. He was giving me a hint that he came here ask for refund, don’t buy! Thanks for this gentleman and I hope this piece of info will help to other whoever wanted to visit BKK.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Good story Algina. Yup, same thing repeating itself. It’s nice that the tourist spoke up.

  32. My friend and I got taken by this in 1992. Then we returned to our hostel and saw a flyer on the notice board warning of such scams. We thought, “My God, the idiots! How can be people be so stup…. Oh, wait!”

    Anyway, we went to the tourist police, and a woman there was very helpful. She guided us through what we needed to do next, but did not get involved herself.

    What we needed to do next was quite a lot!

    First we got a taxi to the airport, where we somehow tracked down our package at the post office depot. (IIRC, the scammers may have even taken the package there themselves to speed its exit from the country.)

    Then we took the gems to a gemology institute to have them examined and valued.

    Finally, we returned to the shop with the gems and the gemologist’s report. We met with the owner, whose temperament and appearance were very different from the sales assistants we’d met earlier! Imagine a Thai version of Tuco Salamanca from Breaking Bad. This was clearly meant to intimidate us into accepting less than the 75% that they’d told us to accept at the tourist police. Fortunately we stuck to our guns and got the 75%. Despite the power these people seem to have, the threat of putting the matter back into the tourist police’s court did seem to work. I think there was an agreement that, if a victim takes back the gems, refund him 75% of what he paid and the police will leave you alone.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      That’s quite the story! Good for you on catching on and doing all that to get resolution – everyone’s experience seems to be that once you leave the country it’s very hard to get anything back.

      Thanks for sharing Rob, hopefully it helps others.

  33. This happened to us earlier this year also. When we got back to the hotel something told me to Google “Manee Thai”… The name of the export center… My heart just dropped and I felt sick to my stomach. We read stories of bad experiences when people tried to take the jewelry back so we called the US Embassy and they adviced us to call the tourist police… But we read some shady stuff about the tourist police and we didn’t want to go back to a place of organized crime so we just left it as is until we got back to the states… We took the jewelry to get appraised (appraised for much less than the claimed value). We called Manee Thai to let them know we would be shipping the jewelry back Express mail and they kept telling us that we weren’t going to get refunded and they were just extremely rude… I paid $60 to ship it Express through USPS and got a tracking number. Once it arrives at Manee Thai, they refused the package and sent it back to us. We filed a claim through CitiCards/MasterCard … They gave us a provisional credit for $1663 (amount of charge)..After three months they wrote back and said that Manee Thai refused to refund us and sent us all the documents we signed and Citi charged us $1663 again. My husband appealed the decision and cited some Texas case law and referenced how this scam has been going on for years and urged MasterCard to stop doing business with this merchant. Citi gave us the provisional credit of $1663 again. Once again, Manee Thai refused to refund us so our dispute got sent to arbitration. Today (about a month later) we got a letter from Citi stating that we don’t have to return the $1663 credit and it’s permanent and they basically sided with us. We filed the original dispute in March and it’s August now. Took a while but with the wait since we got 100% of our money back. We felt so embarrassed to fall for this scam. The sapphires are still in the original packaging from when we shipped them to Thailand… I don’t want anything to do with them. Lol Hopefully this information can help someone else.

    • *Worth the wait (not “with the wait” lol)

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Betsy.

      I would have told you that you did the wrong thing leaving the country without going to the tourist police. It seems that most people end up kissing that money goodbye when they do…

      But this is a good story of how IF you paid by credit card you can get your money back with (a lot of) perseverance. Good for you for hanging on and not taking no for an answer.

      Thank you very much for sharing this story, I’m sure it will help someone down the line :)
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  34. I caught by the same scam last Friday. Since we didn’t know what to do, we talked to the hotel manager for help. She called the shop and they said would refund to us. To ensure our safety, the hotel security head went to the shop with us and the shop agreed to refund without any argument. We will still contact the credit card company to confirm the status.

    We are so lucky!

  35. My wife and I got this scam too. Visited Thailand so many times and we still fall for it. Same story from the Buddha day and so, went to lucky temple then to this shop color gem. Bought 2 rings for 25000 baht and happily believing how miracle fate can be. Then that night, I googled “lucky temple” and all the stories came. Our morale was so down, carry research how to deal with it since we are flying back SG the next day afternoon. Woke up early, wanted to taxi down to shop and ask for refund, when all the taxi driver ask whether are we buying anything and we said NO, they will act blur and don’t know the way and asked to take others. Time is running out for us, so we headed back to hotel. Got the concierge to help, told him our story and he help us by calling them up. Over the phone, the jeweler promise a refund straight away, not sure what the concierge guy told him. Arrange a taxi who is willing to bring us down. Reach destination, went in and saw the salesperson who sold us the rings and said we wanted to refund. No argument no other excuse, did the 100% refund for us. Though it was a bank credit voucher. Still worried whether the refund will be approve. Called SG bank and said they will help us settle the case if things didn’t go well. So waiting for this 2 weeks, hopefully it’s a success case.

  36. Hi
    I am also a victim of this scam. It happened with us on 30th December 2016.
    We had been advised by a travel agent to go to sightsee in the part of Bangkok with the palace and temples. He told us to go by canal/boat because the taxis would not go right near the palace and we would have to walk anyways. So we went by canal and on getting out of the boat and coming up on the street, we stopped to check the map the agent had given us to see in which direction we would have to walk next. Right then, a man came and started a conversation asking us if we were tourists and where we had come from and how long we would stay. He spoke good English. He circled a part of our map, labelling it Thai Export and another part, naming it Lucky Buddha. Then he told us that that day the government was giving a promotion and we could get a tuk-tuk to hire and see the city for only 40 Baht. We took the offer and at that moment a tuk-tuk was driving past, the man hailed the tuk-tuk and told him to take us around the city. It took us to a few places, then to the Lucky Buddha. There, another man who too spoke good English started a conversation with almost the same questions as the previous man. He told us that we were lucky to see the Buddha because it was only open once a year. He also said that only for that day, sapphire would be sold at a cheaper rate, and was going to circle the Thai Export on our map, but saw it had already been marked. So, next, the tuk-tuk took us to a building with no name which was, according to him, the Thai Export. When we went in, everyone was friendly. The shop name was “Color Gems”.

    We choose 1 locket, 1 ear ring, 1 ring. The shop keeper said it is made of white gold . All together it was THB 35,500. I gave my ICICI Visa debit card and the transaction was rejected. Then I gave HDFC Visa Credit Card and it is accepted. There were two transactions one THB 25,000 and THB 10,500.

    Now after coming back whend I was searching for Lucky Buddha details as I wanted to post a picture on social media along with some information of the place, all scam stories came up. This page was on the top and all the details mentioned here on the first post was so very similar with us. Immediately I rushed to a nearby jeweller who said the Sapphire stone seems to be real but we have paid an amount of more than of the actual price. RatNo I was not after making money, am a woman of late thirties who wanted to buy this for personal collection.
    Now can anyone suggest me how to get my money back.
    I am back to my country now.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Jasmine,
      The best thing to do is contact your credit card company right away, tell them you were ripped off, that you want the transaction reversed. They’ll do an investigation and will most likely side in your favour. Look up in the comments above, there have been several example of charges being reversed. It’s a good thing you paid by credit card.
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Ninja training in KyotoMy Profile

  37. Hi
    Thanks for replying. Bank told me to submit the dispute form. Doing so , will be back with updates soon.

  38. Hi
    Just want to know , “do I need to tell credit card company the whole story ? Or should I justmention ripped off?”
    Need guidance, please advise.
    Thanks

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Just be honest – you were overcharged for what you found out after was an inferior product. You’re willing to send back the goods but you want the charges reversed.
      It’s also within 10 days of purchase which helps your case.
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Ninja training in KyotoMy Profile

  39. Thank you
    Will be back with updates.

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