Blue Dragon scam foiled – December 17, 2004

My husband and I just came back from Bangkok yesterday, 15 Dec 2004. I was curious about our strange encounter at this jewellery shop called 'Blue Dragon Export' so I just went to do a 'Google' search. To my great surprise, I realised that it indeed is a scam. What was surprising is that it's been going on for such a long time and that there were so many others before us.

Anyway, we're very glad that 2Bangok.com has taken to trouble to publish the accounts of the victims so that others can be warned. Looking at all the stories, my husband and I thank our lucky stars that we were not conned. I think our experience is the latest, that's why we're sharing it with your website.

On the second day of our stay, i.e. 14 Dec, we went to Wat Pho late morning. At around 1pm, when we wanted to go into the Grand Palace, we were stopped by a smartly-dressed man who claimed that he was a staff working there. He told us that we couldn't go in because some prayers were going on and we should come back at 3pm.

In the meantime, that man suggested that he get a tuk-tuk to take us to 3 other places for sightseeing: Wat Thai, a Thai Export and Watin. He told the tuk-tuk to charge us 30 baht.

At Wat Thai, we saw a couple of temples but they were not as grand as the one at Wat Pho.

After a few minutes, we told the tuk-tuk driver that we were ready to move on. He told us to wait in the tuk-tuk while he goes the toilet for 10 min.

When he was away, there was another Thai who was sitting behind the tuk-tuk. He started to chat with us in English. He said that he was waiting for his brother who was a monk, to finish his prayers so that he could see him. He asked us where we were going.

When we told him someone recommended that we go to the Thai Export, he started telling us that we were very lucky as it was the last day the government was allowing tourists to buy sapphires and rubies that were tax free. He also said that we would be able to sell them at 130% back home. He even cited 2 reputable jewellery shops in Singapore whom he claimed to have sold jewellery to. Anyway, he sounded like he knew quite a few things about Singapore.

We chatted with that stranger for quite a long time. After waiting for almost half an hour for our tuk-tuk driver, we felt that things were quite fishy. Anyway, our driver did turn up eventually.

When we reached the 'Thai Export', we realised that it was only a small shop called 'Blue Dragon Export' (see photo below). There was a smartly-dressed man in black by the road, kind of like a body guard, who escorted us across the lane and into the shop. We thought that it was strange to have such an escort.

That road was also quite quiet. I think that was the only shop opened. The shop also had curtains that covered all the doors, which was also quite strange. Somehow everything seemed so secretive.

We were actually quite tired, so we decided to pay that tuk-tuk driver that 30 baht first and told him he didn't need to take us to the third stop, Watin, because we wanted to go back to the hotel after that. The tuk-tuk driver looked quite surprised that we cut short our trip, but he left without bothering us after we paid him. In fact, I even gave him a small tip.

In the shop, it looked very much like a normal jewellery shop. It wasn't crowded like what we expected. There was only a couple of Japanese ladies and another European couple. There were certificates on the wall to show the 'authenticity' of certain jewellery.

My husband and I decided to countercheck with your hotel staff first on the reputation of the shop before buying, so we left.

We called our hotel, Banyan Tree Bangkok, using the phone booth just a short distance outside the shop. The concierge was helpful. We related our story to him and he tried to check out the reputation of the shop within that short period of time. He told us that he wasn't sure if it was reputable and advised us not to buy from them.

Anyway, we took his advice and didn't buy anything from the shop. We went back to the hotel instead. We talked to the guest relations officer and she also said that it was quite fishy that the tuk-tuk driver only charged 30 baht for the distance we travelled.

After coming back to Singapore, we searched for the name of the shop "Blue Dragon Export" on the internet just out of curiosity. To our horror, this gem scam has been going on for years and so many victims had fallen into its trap.

Some of the victims have lost a lot of money and we're lucky that we only lost 2 hours and the chance to visit the Grand Palace.

I've emailed this story and the link to your website to the hotel so that they can have more information on this. Hopefully, they'll remind other guests to be wary of such cheap tuk-tuk rides that offer to take tourists sightseeing.

More on the Gem Scam & maps to the scam stores

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