Scam at Blue Dragon, Look-luang Road
Email from the latest victim of the scam at Blue Dragon:
April 2, 2004
As you can probably guess, I seem to be another statistic in the Thai Gem scam. I purchased the jewelry from the Blue Dragon export shop. I found your web site after reading an article in the lonely planet on this scam. I thought I'd just check out the credentials of the said shop. I have sent an email to Mr Manat at the D.I.T as per your web page. I must thank you for the useful information you have posted on your site, as I would never have known. Please see mail below sent to D.I.T with regards to circumstances/dates/places etc. Unfortunately I don't have access to scanner so cannot scan receipts just yet.
I would be grateful if you can give me any further advice. I have only contacted Mr Manat and also my credit card company to try and stop payment, but transaction was made 2 weeks ago, so this may not be possible. However credit company have put the transaction into dispute. I will call my embassy and the T.A.T in due course. I will be back in Bangkok in approx 1 weeks time and have all documents plus the goods in question. Where can I goto get the goods valued? Do you need any further info?
Letter the victim wrote to the police
...I am currently in Thailand for a one month tour and would like to inform you of an unfortunate experience, which occurred to me on 19 March 2004. I believe I am another unfortunate statistic of the Thai gem scam.
I am traveling with my girlfriend and decided I wanted to buy her something special to celebrate the start of what was hoping to be a wonderful experience in your beautiful country. Unfortunately it now seems that my expected wonderful experience has turned sour.
Whilst out shopping around Bangkok I hired a tuk tuk to take me to the Thai airlines office. The tuk tuk driver obliged and whilst on the way told me he would take me on a small tour of the city and take me to a sleeping Buddha monument. He also said he would only charge me 10 bhat for his services if I went to a jewelry export shop with him. He told me he would get free petrol if I entered this shop. As I had time on my hands I thought why not? He informed me that today the export shop was open to the general public for one day only and that they were offering foreigners a Tax free sale. As I was looking for a present for my girlfriend I thought this could be an ideal opportunity for me to buy her a nice present at a nice price.
I arrived at the sleeping Buddha, where I was approached by a Thai man who told me he was a teacher there. He was very friendly and gave me some history of the Buddha image and asked me where I was going next. I told him I was on my way to meet my girlfriend, but on the way I was to stop at the export shop. He told me that there was a special Tax free sale, only for foreigners and I would be able to buy jewelry at trade price, Tax free. I thanked him for the information on the Buddha images and left.
Then when I went to find my tuk tuk driver he was not there. I sat in the Tuk Tuk waiting when I was approached by a French guy asking for directions. I told him that I didnt know the area to well and he asked which way I was going as he had an idea where his destination was and that maybe he could get a lift with me. I told him I was going to the Export shop first and then to meet my girlfriend. On hearing that I was going to the Blue Dragon export shop he told me that he had also been before in previous years and that it was a place hed bought from and that the prices were 100% cheaper than in Europe. He told me that he bought the goods and took them home to sell making massive profits. This was not my intention as I was looking to buy a present.
The tuk driver finally appeared and told the French guy he was not going in his direction. We arrived at the Blue dragon shop and my first impressions of the shop were very good. The shop and the staff all seemed very professional and helpful. I explained I was looking for a special present for my girlfriend and was duly shown a selection of jewelry. One set in particular caught my eye and I was told that the sapphire stones were very rare as the mining of these stones had been exhausted in Thailand. I was also told that today it is Tax free for foreigners and I would not only get trade price but also tax free. I was very impressed with the service and the sales technique and was convinced I was getting a great deal. I told the shop assistant that I would like to think about it and maybe come back in a day or two but was told that the special offer is only today and afterwards would not be open to the public. I thought about it and had been totally convinced I was getting a great deal. I purchased a Sapphire and diamond set in white gold (earrings, ring and necklace) for 92.100 bhat. I was told by the sales person I was getting a great deal and that outside Thailand I would pay at least double the price for this set.
Earrings Blue sapphire 2.32cts, diamond 0.41ct, 18ct white gold 4.56g 33,200 bhat
Ring Sap 1.16ct, Diam 0.31ct, gold 5.11g 23,400
Necklace sap 1.23g, dia 0.31g, gold 5.11g 33,500
Total paid is 92,100 bhat
The address of the shop is
Blue Dragon factory export center
463/9-12 1st floor
I left the shop feeling happy and was convinced I had made the right choice. I couldn't wait to give the set to my girlfriend.
It was only 2 days ago when I bought a copy of the lonely planet that I read about the elaborate Gem Scam. I went straight to the Internet and put the shop name on search engine which took me to the 2bangkok.com web site (where I got your details from) which informed me this shop was part of the scam. I duly called my credit card company and told them of the scam. They were looking into stopping the payment but thought it had probably already been paid. Looking back at the events leading up to entering the shop I could see that I was another statistic of this elaborate scam.
Obviously I am very upset about this scam, and from reading the web site am surprise that this shop is allowed to trade after their past history. Im also surprised that it warns you that members of the Thai police may be involved and not to go to them with complaint. I believe I have been cheated and mislead of the real value of the jewels by this shop.
I hope you can help me in my unfortunate plight to at least get a refund. I still have all the gems, the documents. I will be in Thailand for another 2 weeks, before I go to Cambodia and Vietnam. I will be back in Thailand again at the last week of may.
I have email-ed 2bangkok.com this information and will be calling my embassy. I will also be calling the TAT with this information. I also believe I have to get the gems valued. Can you recommend a genuine place to go to to get this done?
This event has totally overshadowed what should have been a pleasant stay in Thailand.
April 8, 2004
Thanks again for your help. Just to let you know, I have a positive outcome to my problem, please read.
Today I went to the Tourist Police to lodge a complaint. The lady I spoke to was so unhelpful and was very patronizing towards me. However, I stood my ground and was very firm with her stating that I had been told lies and had been cheated by the shop. After a few minutes she told me to take a seat and a representative from the shop would be there shortly.
Within 5 mins the lady sales person from the shop arrived and we were shown to a room. I asked if there would be a representative from the T.A.T but they said no, deal with this yourself!
Anyway, the lady asked what my problem was and why I wanted to return the gems. I told her I knew about the shop and their history and that I had been vastly over charged. She told me that I signed the slip and agreed to pay for the gems so she shouldn't have to. I stated firmly that I had been lied to by the shop and that I was unhappy doing business this way and wanted a refund. The lady became a little uneasy and agreed to 'buy the gems back' and asked me how much I wanted, I told her the full amount, 100%. She said that she can't possible do this and really she didn't have to give me a refund at all. Really I should learn from this experience and just take 70%. I flatly refused, and told her I had already canceled the payment with my credit card. She said this was impossible but I told her otherwise. After more discussion and her telling me that she doesn't like doing this job, she has a baby etc and jobs are difficult to come by in Thailand etc she called her boss. I told her the very least I would except is 90%, (she said anything more is impossible)otherwise I would take the matter further. She called her boss who agreed to give me 90%. I signed the returns form and gave the goods back. I paid 92,100 and received a credit back to my card for 82,890.
Obviously I have still lost 10% of the original value which I am not happy about but from what you've told me I've done well to get this much.
I hope this information will be helpful for others facing this plight and again thank you for your assistance in this matter.
One other point, yesterday, I was on the Silom road looking in jewelry shops just to get estimates on similar gems, just to check how much I'd been over charged. Me and my girlfriend posed as customers in several shops and once we left one shop we were approached by a Thai woman who told us that the shop we'd just been in was very expensive and she knew of another shop which was trade prices. Now I knew of this scam I listened to her and asked her to write the name of shop which she did.(R S Siam Jewelry, Rama 6 Rd) Within a minute a tuk pulled up. She turned over the slip of paper she had written on, only to see a warning about the scam!(I got the paper from previous jewel shop). From reading this she seemed quite embarrassed and told me that be careful as 2 French, 2 Muslim and an American guy are involved in this scam, picking up tourist on the street. We made our excuses and left the woman and the tuk driver alone!
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