Scammed by Sukothai Jewellers? They've been closed
so kiss your money goodbye!
February 5, 2002
From a letter we received:
I was in Bangkok on January 22 when I became a target for the gem scam. Needless to say it was like all the stories on your website, except perhaps a more extensive effort on their part as it took a "teacher" at a temple to tell me the temple was closed for a special service but I could take the tuk-tuk at a special rate; the tuk-tuk driver who gave me the govt deal; a "student" at a temple from Chiangmai; a "French tourist"; a couple of "temple caretakers" posing as government workers, and no less than TWO shops as the first one couldn't convince me. I still don't know for sure why I snapped, as I wasn't even looking to buy jewellery. But I guess having so many people telling you the same story over and over, you start to wonder if you're making a mistake by not using the government "promotion". As I had never heard of the gem scam, and was not warned of it at any time during my stay in Bangkok, I guess I was a good target.
Anyways, the next morning I still wasn't sure, so I checked with the tourist authority and learned of my mistake. Mr Manat was out of his office at the Commerce Ministry, so I filed a complaint with his colleague and then returned the gems as soon as they arrived in Singapore.
However, Mr Manat tells me I'm too late, Sukothai Jewellers has closed down. Ironically, the most recent story on your site from the Bangkok Post was about a scam of a German tourist at the same shop and on the same day as my unfortunate incident.
Anyways, he says the only option besides accepting the 100,000 baht loss (more than a month's salary!) which I will have to pay my credit card bank for starting in March, is to pursue court action. I'm not averse to being a witness, but the question is, do I really stand any chance of getting any compensation through legal action?
2Bangkok.com responds: Probably not.
Why would the owner, who has already shut down his firm thus avoiding legal liability, even bother to show up, let alone comply with any ruling?
2Bangkok.com responds: The scams are not done by individual owners but by a kind of cartel that is protected at the highest levels here. The same shop will be open any day now under a new name. The police are powerless.
Have you heard of anybody successfully doing this, or would it be a waste of time and money?
2Bangkok.com responds: We haven't heard of anyone doing this. What you'll find is that at every turn people will try to discourage you--your paperwork won't be right so everything is delayed, the police will give you a friendly warning that the gem owners will send people to beat you up, etc. If you had the time and money, it would be nice to try something like this just to bring attention to this problem. Thais are sometimes swayed by bad publicity.
Thanks in advance for your help, and for a great website. Wish I had found it before my trip....