Gem scam account: Ma Mere Claims More Victims - February 19, 2001
From an email reprinted with permission:
"OK it starts close to the Grand Palace. There is an entrance which is closed and so a friendly (slimy) tuk-tuk driver comes and tells that the Wat Pho is closed before lunch. But he will bring you around for 30 baht to some nice Buddhas (yes they have been nice). Actually his name is Whai (one Buddhist who will not be reborn). So off the trip goes to the sitting Buddha. He waits nicely even though I take my time. I come back we continue. Now there is a place closed so he brings me to another temple. Not a big one, but quite and just what I want to relax now. After a while a friendly guy enters the temple (yes it is a temple and probably he is the next one who won't be reborn). We start talking and he speaks good English. He has his children studying in England (I told him that I am from England). Story goes on and he is really educated. After 30 minutes I just (buy the way) ask him about a promotion for diamonds - good to check. OK he says its a good thing and even shows me two papers (I will own them one hour later for quite some money). He will go soon to London to sell his set and it should pay for his children's living expense there (you do need a lot of money in London). I ask him about any promotions and he explains that the intention is to create extra business so Thailand can fight the drug crime - noble and something everybody should support. What really convinces me that this guy is telling his story in a temple and even Buddha is watching - wherever you go on this planet: people do not lie in chruches, mosques or temples (or any other holy place). I leave the place as this is really convincing me and he leaves a bit later. My friend we will meet again!
"So our friendly tuk-tuk driver Whai (if you meet him ask my 50 baht back, because he cheated me) brings me finally to the MA MERE GEMS. A spacey outlet at Loog-Luang Road with a lot of pretty girls and a fat cat (female - she is probably MA MERE). She explains the model too me: the Thai government has a 195% tax on gems for export. At the moment (and today is the last day) there is a discount of 95% (great). If I as a tourist buy today I get this discount and I can sell the set of diamonds to a local dealer in Europe (she even knows Christ of Germany and even the number of their stores) for 195% tax. She is doing business with them and they will buy the set. Sounds fine with me. She even promised to buy the set back if I can't sell it. There is another woman in the store moving the 1000 baht notes over the table for her purchases. The fat cat has a file of passport photocopies from customers and I browse through them - looks ok.
"Ok now comes a real bummer: you can not buy the set by credit card from her (ouch). She wants cash or gold. So a friendly girl drives with me to the bank. Actually the bank manager looked down when we arrived, so now I know why [Bangkok Bank and the BBL- Saphan Khao Branch, in Saphan Khao Rd]. We pick some money from my credit card and as this is not enough we will buy some gold at one of the shops with the other card. After 1 hour we are back and the store manager has already packed the set for me. Actually they don't count the money. Now they have even more beautiful girls in that corner of the shop and somehow I am feeling a bit weird. But then she gives me that paper that says "if customer not satisfied MA MERE will buy back". This helps.
"As I will be travelling around for another 2 weeks we will send the stuff with courier to Europe. I am supposed to get the courier receipt the next day in the hotel. Then we leave the store. Her driver shows me around a bit: first we drive to Nakhom Pathom for a really gorgeous temple complex, then to rose gardens (is for tourists and I have to pay the entrance fee) and then he brings me to Thai massage (he pays). There he disappears and I take the Taxi to the Hotel.
"The next morning (20/02/01) I am just paying our friends a visit to check credibility. The shop is closed (that's fair as yesterday was the last day of the promotion and there are things to clean up). The door is locked and the security guy from yesterday recognises me. He brings me to the back entrance and a guy with radio comes out. I tell him that I want to pick up my courier receipt and need a statement for customs that I paid half in gold and half in cash. He comes back after 15 minutes and the same person has signed the letter. Seems my stuff is on the way to Europe and the business does still exist (even though they didn't want to let me in).
"Ok now I am in Europe and just tried to sell the set to CHRIST (Germany) who does not buy this kit. I have contacted Mr Manat by email and my strategy would be getting a lawyer who brings the set back to MA MERE for them to buy it back (as stated in their paper). I would transfer my re-sell rights to the guy and give him a commission. Hope this works.
"However this story ends, I want to tell everybody that Thais are very nice and friendly people and that even the MA MERE suckers (Buddha don't give them another live and if only as rats) have not been able to spoil the holiday. I will come back and I will return to the shop as well."
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