A reader reports: I also just become a gem scam victim at Blue Dragon Factory Export Center Co., Ltd. in Bangkok.
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The following text describes the facts of the case that just occurred at Dec 14th 2006.
I walked along a road with my girlfriend not far away from our hotel "Royal Princess (Lan Luang)" and we wanted to do some sightseeing by walking. After we had walked some blocks, we were looking in our street map (in front of the Thai Airways International Building" as a nice guy from Thailand (good looking and very friendly) offered his help to find some good places to see.
He told us that we need to go to the tall buddha "wat indraviharn" and to the lucky buddha "wat mongrut" before we should enjoy the sunset at "Golden Mount". He also talked some words in German and seemed to be a fan of the German football league "Bundesliga". To waste not too much time he suggested us to take a Thai tuk-tuk to go to these places, especially a Thai one because they were cheaper as the Chinese ones, as the Thai guy said.
As there were tuk-tuks all around us the guy waved to one of the Thai tuk-tuk drivers and explained him to which places he should drive with us and that he should make a special price of 20 BAHT for the small sightseeing trip.
We felt happy about that nice guy and drove with this Thai tuk-tuk to the recommended places.
The tuk-tuk driver waited at all stops so that we could enjoy the sightseeing. Before we drove to the lucky buddha (second stop), he explained us that there is a special event in bangkok, a Thai promotion. We should also go there because it is real nice and he would get a free tank for his tuk-tuk if he would bring some tourists to this place. The tuk-tuk driver made us believe as if it were something like a governmental sponsored event.
At the attraction "lucky buddha" we met another nice Thai guy that asked very friendly how we did find this holy place, were we came from, how long we stayed in Thailand etc. After a short talk with this man he mentioned that we were very lucky because there is a unique promotion in bangkok that we need to go to. Because of the tsunami in Thailand some years ago and the less numbers of tourists as a result of that, he explained, there are special promotions in Bangkok where tourists could buy original Thai jewelry "sapphire and rubies" without tax of 100% that needs to be paid normally. He told us that he just bought some jewelry for several thousand BAHT, that he works in a bank and his wife for an insurance company, that they just got married and that he and his wife will go for a trip to Australia tomorrow.
As he knows that the Thai sapphire and rubies stone is very popular, valued and rare, he explained, and that he could sell his jewelry with a profit of at least 50-100% in Australia e.g., especially because you do not need to pay the tax at this special promotion day, it is a real good deal that he had made. Through this jewelry promotion he finance his trip to Australia, he said. The idea behind the promotion he told us is: People from foreign countries should get some chance to buy Thai jewelry without the high tax of 100% on special days, so that they can make a good deal with their investment in jewelry and will keep on coming to Thailand (as another motive to come to Thailand and to finance the trip).
After we had talked with this guy for a while, we felt lucky for these information and we decided to go to this promotion. The shop that the nice Thai at the lucky buddha recommended was "Blue Dragon Factory Export Center Co., Ltd."
We got with the tuk-tuk driver to the recommended promotion shop and were amazed by the good looking shop. We did not feel to be on a place where bad deals were to be made. Besides we did not imagine at this point that all nice guys that we have met so far may work together. And we still do not know today, but we think that it is just a very good organized criminal group of people that try to make bad deals with tourists.
In the shop the dealer took a lot of time for us, explained everything about the tax on jewelry and the rare and high valued Thai sapphires and rubies and that he normally does only wholesale and not retail business. Just on this special promotion week, which today should be the last day, he opens his shop for end consumers. He did not force us to buy something, there were many people in the shop, the shop was not dark, a lot of jewelry in it, good looking furniture and rooms... everything just looked fine.
After almost one hour I decided to buy a bracelet for my sister with the following details for a price of 60.400 BAHT:
After we paid with the credit card we left the shop and went to the Golden Mount with the tuk-tuk driver that still waited outside and seemed to be lucky with the gas coupon for his tuk-tuk. We only paid 20 BAHT after our sightseeing tour with him and everything seemed to be alright.
Later in the hotel we read in the "lonely planet" about jewelry business in Thailand and all of al sudden we recognized that we could also have become a gem scam victim. As we had no time to be left to check more information through the internet or go to the police because our plane was just leaving the next morning, I just found out today in Germany that I wasted a lot of money on a bad deal.
Although there is a "buy back policy" in our contract with the jewelry shop that says that we can change the jewelry anytime or get 80% of the money back within the first three months I am skeptic if we really can do so. I will try to find out more information in the internet to get some of my money back.
Besides that I want my case to be published on www.2bangkok.com because every gem scam victim is one victim to much. Bad businesses like that can destroy the wonderful holiday impressions of Thailand that so many nice and friendly people in Thailand just have created. I still like this country very much and I am sure I will come back again, but I will never ever buy expensive goods without using several objective sources of information to reduce the risk of being tricked.
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