Note: There are actually newer scam reports than those below, but we receive so many and they are all basically the same story at the same shops. We
can just let these reports stand as representative of what is still going on...
Malaysians falling prey to Bangkok gems scam - Bernama, December 31, 2009
...He said the group members, some of whom he claimed were off-duty policemen, normally preyed on tourists at popular spots like the Grand Palace, Siam Square, Central World, Pratunam, Wat Pho and Khaosan Road.
A spokesman of the Thai Tourist Police said the number of reports of such scam had dropped in recent years, and added that most of the victims were from France, Australia, Israel, as well as Japan, Singapore and Malaysia...
Latest gem scam: Yindee Lapidary - December 4, 2009
Jewel scam in Chiang Mai - Lonely Planet, February 12, 2009
Thai Gem Scam simulation - The Real Hustle, May, 2008
[Thanks to Jaymes for pointing this out.]
Interesting simulation of the Thai gem scam that gets several key points wrong - the gems are not fake, the scam is recommended "randomly" by two independent sources, and the gems are sold from a "legitimate" shop, not an outdoor kiosk.
Scam report -
April 3, 2008
Scam report -
March 27, 2008
Scam report -
March 15, 2008
From a reader: I just finished browsing your web site and could not help crying over the scam I just went through this afternoon. The incident is exactly same as what most of people described on your web site, involving friendly thai in front of Grand Royal Palace telling me the palace is closed, best bargain price with 40Bah with Tutu driver, and the worst foreigner claimed himself coming from Belgium. I purchased Blue Sapphire and Red Ruby bracelets with about 135,000 Bah and don't even want to imagine how much they are really worth. I bought them really for personally usage, although the "Belgium" guy claimed those jewelry can be resold with double price. With a bit of suspicion, I search for "Golden Argosy Factory Export Center" and found out about the Gem scams on your web site. I am calling credit card company and Thai tourist police but none of them seem to be interested in helping me to get my refund. I am wondering if you have heard any news that the refund can be made 100%. If you do, please let me know. Thank you very much for posting those scams on the web site. Without your web site, I might think I bought those jewelry at decent price. Gosh, I don't even want to admit how stupid I am to fall into this trap. Thanks for your kind attention to my email.
From a reader: My husband and I were recently scammed by Leela Lapidary in Pranakorn. We would like our money to be returned. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer.
On 1 January 2008 around 11:00 am, my husband and I arrived at the Grand Palace. We were told by a man at the entrance that the palace was full and would not allow more people in until 1:00 pm. He recommended that we visit Wat Benchamabophit and Wat Saket, as well as a place he called "Thai Center," which we thought must be a cultural center. Refer to the map attached where he wrote this information. He called over a tuk-tuk driver and arranged the fare for us. At one of the wats a very friendly Thai man approached us. He told us that it was a good investment to buy gemstones in Thailand, that they would bring us luck, and indicated that the "Thai Center" had very good prices.
The tuk-tuk driver took us to the "Thai Center," which turned out to be the jewelry store Leela Lapidary (address: 589 Prasumeru Road, Wat Borwornives, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200. Tel: 2629-4513-16.) My husband was lured into buying a sapphire ring by the saleswoman who kept insisting that the rings were such high quality, we would save on taxes, all the Thai people shopped here because of the good wholesale values, etc. He paid 153,300 bhat for a ring that was only worth 85,533 according to Mr. James Corbett, a registered gemologist in Australia. (Refer to the receipt from Leela Lapidary and the valuation/appraisal from Mr. Corbett. Note that the valuation shows Australian dollars. I have written in US dollars.)
We began to realize that we might have fallen in prey of the scam group only on our return to Australia the following day. We would like to inform you about the crooked sales tactics of this shop and ask for your help in getting our money back (preferably in US dollars). Unfortunately, this ruined our wonderful holiday in Thailand.
We will be returning to Thailand on March 26 for a couple of days. We can bring the ring back at that time. We would prefer not to mail it, but will do so, if instructed.
the gem scam
What do we mean by "Gem Shop Locations involved
in the scam?" - Shops that have been known to use touts at
tourist attractions to lure shoppers to their stores with false
claims of huge discounts and promises that money can be made by
reselling the gems back home. The gems purchased are genuine, but
overpriced--sometimes many times their actual retail value.
Also: List of gem shops involved
in the scam
December 20, 2005
scam flourishing - Why the authorities don't crack down
- December 23, 2004
Royal Gems & Jewelry: "Two Friendly Men" ruin a vacation
Trade Center: A typical tale
(March 8, 2002)
Blue Dragon (April
(May 17, 2004)
Lapidary (March 28, 2002)
Lapidary (October 30, 2002)
Gems and Jewelry (January 4, 2002)
Komkien Gems and Jewelry (January
Leela Lapidary & the
new Tourist Police Chief
(August 11, 2003)
(October 19, 2002)
claims more victims
Company Limited (March 14, 2002)
(November 11, 2002)
Komkien) (July 30, 2002)
S.S.S. Jewelry Limited Partnership
(May 14, 2004)
Sukothai Jewellers? They've
been closed so kiss your money goodbye! (February 5, 2002)
Center Co. Ltd. (October, 2000)
TGJ Thai Center Co., Ltd. (August,
scam account I (December 18, 2001)
Thai Mikimoto scam account II
(January 10, 2002)
Thai Mikimoto scam account III
(January 11, 2002)
Thai Mikimoto scam account IV
(January 22, 2002)
Gems: Gem deals are too good to be true
Gems and Jewelry Export Co. Ltd (May 12, 2002)
Gems Gallery (August 9, 2002)
Vandee Gems Gallery (AKA The Export Centre)
(July 22, 2002)
Vandee Gems Gallery (June 13,
Lapidary (November 30, 2002)
Yindee Lapidary (November 2, 2002)
Many more shorter reports are on the older
in Bangkok: Nine tourists/1,204,320 baht scammed/police refuse to
help - (October 17, 2002) [This article mentions: Charlermthai,
Christie's Lapidary, Oscar, Orchid, and the goldsmith Hang Thong
Thong Bai/Ranghang Thong Thong Bai]
Taxi drivers help with the
scam (June 6, 2002)
Foreigners now helping
with the gem scam
Just Embarrassing... (efforts to stop the scam)
Gem scam account: Another experience
that's not quite like the rest
August 2006 - State of the gem scam during the Thai Rak Thai government years
| Since Thai Rak Thai came to power the government has ceased all action against the gem scam and simply announced that the problem was solved.
The reality was that several key shops--Blue Dragon, SSS, and Piyamanee were allowed to remain scamming. Police no longer conducted raids or forced shops to close. Instead, the shops were required to operate under Department of Internal Trade rules that stipulates an 80% refund must be offered to a buyer.
While we have heard statistics of the number of police reports of the scam per year, as far we know police no longer take reports, but send the cheated tourist back to the shop for a refund.
|| Back When...
When we first started following the scam in 1990,
it was almost always based around blue sapphires. Many even called
the scam the Thai Blue Sapphire scam. The story went that there were
lots of cheap sapphires being smuggled in from Burma and Cambodia
that foreigners could buy, bring home, and make a fortune. Since then
the type of gems mentioned in the scam has become more varied.
Left: Tipnapa Ltd., Part. was the first gem scam shop we investigated
in 1992. The shop is long gone, but was located not far from the Vandee
Thai Gem Scam Group - website created by a
group of tourists who want to end the scam
of Thailand Gem-buying page (dead link as of 2007) - "Buying gems or jewellery to resell
at double or triple the purchase price is an impossible proposition under
any circumstances and should not be attempted."
Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders
Tourism Authority of Thailand warnings
about the scam
Bangkok Post has an in-depth
article (August 21, 2000) on the scam with lots of good background: Gem
deals are too good to be true