Taxi drivers help with the scam

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Taxi drivers help with the scam - 08:22, June 6, 2002
A tourist writes in warn about taxi drivers helping with the scam: I wish to add that taxi drivers are part of the gem scam network too.
I was on my to the Erawan shrine from my hotel when I was stopped by a couple of taxi drivers who asked me where I wish to go. As the norm, one driver told me Erawan shrine would be closed until 11am that day because it was Buddha day (it was 10.30am when I boarded the taxi). I thought it was a little strange because the only Buddha day I knew of was just 2 days before and it is known as Vesak day! He suggested that he takes me to another temple where I can be blessed with holy water and can pray to “Guan Yin” (a popular deity amongst Buddhist Singaporeans). He said he would wait while I pray, and when I am done; he will take me to Erawan shrine. I said that was fine, and told him to start the taxi meter but he told me that he could fetch me to both temples at just 40 bahts instead. I insisted that he starts the taximeter, he obliged. He cut through several small lanes, and went up the highway, and finally reached the destination, which was strangely, a small and quiet temple. He said he would wait as I make my rounds, and so I did. I climbed a small flight of steps and overhead a Thai speaking to a family of Singaporeans (we speak with a distinctive accent and can be spotted from miles away… haha). He was enthusiastically pointing to their map and suggesting places to go. I thought it might be a good idea to eavesdrop since I didn’t really know where to go myself. Soon he suggested shopping, and that the best gift dad could buy for his daughters was jewelry. I dismissed him as a jewelry tout and went on my way. Now that I am back in Singapore, I learnt that he isn’t merely a jewelry tout. I had witness first hand, a scam of epic proportion… :) I went back to look for the taxi but it was nowhere in sight.
The next day I learnt that the temple I was taken to was merely a stone’s throw away from my hotel. The driver had taken a detour to arrive there to confuse me deliberately. So why hadn’t a 2nd guy come by to tout jewelry to me? I ruled that either he was busy with the other victims, or I simply didn’t look like a good catch. The latter was true. Having graduated less than 2 months ago, I had nothing more than US$1000 to my name so bringing me to a gem store would have been a fruitless attempt whether I was interested or not.
I was offered not once but thrice by drivers to take me to another place of interest because it was Buddha day so temples were closed. The 2nd time, it was 1.30pm. The tuk tuk driver told me that Wat Pho would be closed till 2pm. The 3rd time, a tuk tuk driver claimed that he is a good man and asked to see my map. I didn’t bother to listen.

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