Gem shop locations involved in the scam

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Gem shop locations involved in the scam
"I'll reopen again, just like I have for 20 years!"

What do we mean by "Gem Shop Locations involved in the scam?" We mean 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.

2B has followed this scam online for nearly five years and before that collected reports starting in 1991. Up until 2003, the authorities did nothing to stop the scam. Officials claimed that just changing the name of the shop prevented them from doing anything. There were a small collection of locations where stores merely reopened under different names to avoid legal repercussions. In 2003, in the lead up to the APEC summit and reacting to negative publicity, the Thaksin government suddenly announced there were no more gem scam stores in Thailand. While there has been a noticeable drop off in reports, many stores are still open (in fact, 2Bangkok.com later received a scam report that occurred on the day of the government announcement).

Usually, when searching for a scam store for the first time on an obscure street, it is easiest to look for the metal slats that are almost always used to turn run-down shophouses into presentable gem shops. This reinforces the idea that a single group uses the same methods to run all the stores in the downtown area. Sources have also confirmed that there are at least two territories for scam stores. One cartel runs all scams shops in the downtown area (Rattanakosin, Dusit, Chinatown/Chaeron Krung Road, Patapinklao) and circulates a common group of workers among the locations. Other smaller concerns run shops in the east side of town. The eastern scam stores usually do not use the customary metal slats on their exteriors.

The shops also use a common pool of employees who are swapped between stores so when the store opens under a new name the same people are not working there. This page is an attempt to document the locations regardless of what the store is called.

There are also 'permanent' shops like Oscar and Leela (shops that do not regularly open under a new name). These shops have occasional scam reports and lure tourists in by unethical means, but they differ from other shops in that it is usually possible to obtain a refund.

Sources for this information: tourists who have been scammed, sympathetic Thai police officers (it is surprising how many there are), TAT staff who do not wished to be named, officials in Thai embassies overseas who pass us reports they receive of scammed tourists, and some other anonymous sources

Also: Individual scam accounts



Bangkok Royal Gems & Jewelry (last report December 21, 2001 - closed)
9-13 Chula Soi 14 Rantadtong Road, Phatumwan, 10330

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:

Creative


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Blue Dragon becomes Golden Argosy

Above: July, 2007

Right: December, 2006

Blue Dragon has changed its name to Golden Argosy and continues to scam tourists.

Address: 436/9-12, Loog-Luang Road, Mahannak, Dusit (Google Earth placemark)

This is one of the best-protected gem scam locations. Tourists who complained were interrogated by police and told they risked getting beaten up by gem gangs if they pursued their cases further.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Right: The shop when it was called 'Imperial.' In the photo notice the little curtains to either side of the name indicating it was recently officially opened. Within a week of Imperial's opening (early January, 2003) we already had a scam report.

This store was the first (that we know of) to try to protect itself by making customers sign a declaration. The customer must hand-write "Souvenir for family--not for resale."

Names of the scam shop operating from this location in the past:

Last report December 2006 - Blue Dragon Factory Export Center Co. Ltd.
Last report mid-2003 - Imperial Jewelry Export Co. Ltd.
Last report December, 2000 - Ma Mere Gems Collection Co. Ltd.
Last report October, 2000 - Blue Sapphire Gem Co. Ltd.
Last report July, 2000 - TGJ Thai Center Co. Ltd.



(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Burapa Lapidary (closed mid-2002)
164 Damrong Rak Rd, Klong Maha Nak Sub PomPrab Dist, Bangkok 10100


Chalermthai (last report October 19, 2002 - closed December, 2002)
27-29 Soi Chalemket 2, U-kol 1 Street, Thepsirim, Pomprabsatrupai
This location is deep in Chinatown in a neighborhood that some might consider atmospheric and lively, but it actually borders on being a slum. Building after building is vacant, wrecked cars line the narrow streets, and greasy mechanics wearing nothing but underwear repair giant engines dripping oil right on the sidewalk. Why a tourist would buy thousands of dollars worth of gems from such a shabby store on such a shabby street is beyond us, but many, many people did.

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
closed around September, 2002 - Mahachai
last report March 8, 2002 - Benjarong
open for just a few months after Chalerrmkht and before Benjarong - U-Thong
closed early 2002 - Chalermkeht


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Champion (last report June 7, 2002 - closed)
25/11 Pisanulek Road, Dusit, Bangkok 10300 Thailand Tel: 0-2628-5391, 0-2628-5392 Fax: 0-2280-2644
This is another well-connected store... Those cheated here find it hard to get any help from the authorities.

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
formerly Majestic


Christie's Lapidary (attempted scam report October, 2002 - closed)
We do not have the address of this shop.


D.S.R. Manufactory
We have received no scam reports about this store yet (we are not even sure what it sells as it always seems to be closed), but since it is operating from the same address as several former scam shops, customers should exercise caution.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
849/59-61 Chula Soi 6, Bantadtong Road., Phatumwan

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
last report July 30, 2002 - Siam
last report June 6, 2002 - Theppanom (Tel: 02-6123107 - "It cheated a Malaysian from Penang of 29,600 baht on June 6, 2002" - thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand Kuala Lumpur Office for this report)
last report January 29, 2002 - Komkien Gems and Jewelry (Police supposedly closed Komkien in July, 2001, but it was operating again in 2002.)
last report 2001 - Sincere


Gems Palace (last report May, 2003 - closed December 2003 - now the location is some kind of generalized export shop)
115/1-3 Prachathipatai Road, Bangkhunprom, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200
This is a shop we have been watching for some time. The shop employs a French man who meets tourists near the Grand Palace with friendly advice about how much money can be made at the store. The shop is just a few units away from the notorious 121-123/125 Prachatipatai Road scam location which is presently called Kawin Gems (see below).


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Above -January 11, 2003 - 121-123/125 Prachatipatai Road scam shop immediately after being closed.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Above - January 25, 2003 - After only 2 weeks of closure, the shop is open again using the name Kawin Gems Co., Ltd.

Kawin Gem Company, Ltd. (no reports yet, but as this is a long time scamming location, you would be crazy to trust them - closed December 2003 - now the location is a tailor shop)
121-123/125 Prachatipatai Rd., Bangkhunprom Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200 Thailand, Tel: 0-2629-3516-17, Fax: 0-2629-3519
See the map above for location.

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
closed January, 2003 - Dheves Gems
closed about March 14, 2002 - Marin Gems

Leela Lapidary Co., Ltd.
589 Prasumen Rd, Wat Borwornives, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200 Tel : 629-4513-16 Fax : 629-4517
See the map above for location.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

The shop looks very elaborate--not like most of the cheaply converted shophouses that are used for the scams. While we have received scam reports about it, we have also received complimentary reports about this shop (below) and those who go back to the shop (with TAT help, not the police) have been given refunds.

This shop is observed to maintain their own fleet of tuktuks (which are parked in the shop courtyard at night). These are the tuk-tuks that run along Phra Ahatit Road stopping to ask tourists "sightseeing 10 baht all day." Some of these also sit near the Defense Ministry.
Update (June 2004): ...I am writing to tell my experience in dealing with Leela Lapidary on 3 May 2004 during our short holiday in Bangkok. We purchased 2 pieces of Ruby rings there at their shop at 589 Prasumeru Road, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200, at a total price of Thai Baht 276,000. On returning to Malaysia, we checked the stones at a Kuala Lumpur Consultant Gemologist for verification and found that the rubies were of good quality and were good buys. The Manager, Mr. Paul was very kind to call us from Thailand to check if we were satisfied with our purchases. And we are very pleased with our purchases. Therefore, after reading all the negative reports about Leela Lapidary, in our good experiences with them, I and my wife wish to express our point of view.

Update
(November 2003): Another positive report about Leela: Your latest update about Leela, we have noticed that Leela is not like the other stores. For one, it has been open for almost two years (probably more). Secondly, people seem to have a better success rate at getting a refund. Finally, we had once case of a fellow from England who would have made a *profit* selling his gems purchased at Leela, but for the import duties charged by the UK. This store does not appear to be quite like the others and I'm not sure why.

Update
(January 2003): We have received a positive report about Leela: A very well presented shop, many staff and a huge selection of jewelry. We picked out a Thai style ring for my wife which cost 15,500 baht - a reasonable price I thought - I conducted all the business side of things (haggling) in Thai. My wife was most impressed with the business dealing and with the ring. A lovely sapphire On return to Australia we had it valued at a reputable Australian jeweler - It was valued at about 18,000 baht, so in effect we made 10% on our deal. I was thinking of going back there and doing some more shopping in the future. My experience there was pleasant and as it turns out my purchase was a quality item at a price that turned out to be reasonable.

Monpere Gem Company (last report 2001)
We do not have the address of this shop.


Orchid (last report November, 2002 - closed December, 2002 - January 2003: this site is for rent)
318 Krungkasem Rd., Bangkhunprom, Sub-District, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200 Tel: 02-282 4381
We called the landlord (0-2962-0169). The four-storey shophouse is for rent for 45,000 baht per month. The landlord (who did not wish to be identified) said she did not know the previous tenant was doing an illegal business. She said she had thought Orchid was an import business.
See the map above for location.


Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
last report July, 2002 - Phanfa
last report 2001 - Thai Mining


The Oscar (last report October, 2006)
76/3-4 Ratchadumnurnnok Road, Watsommanaswiharn, Pomprab, Bangkok 10100
Tel. 6298510-1
This
shop is around the corner from the boxing stadium and within a line of sight from a police box. Like Leela, this is a 'permanent' shop (not one that regularly opens under a new name).


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Orchid


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Piyamanee (last report January, 2006)
468-470 Bamroonmuang Rd, Thapsirin, Pompapsattupai, Bangkok, 10100 Thailand
Google Earth placemark



R.S. Siam Jewelry
Rama 6 Road
No reports yet, but tourists are being approached by touts from this shop.
...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!



Sapphire Gallery (last report January 14, 2002)
165-167 Tanao Road, Bowonniwet, Bangkok 10200 (near Khao Sarn Road)

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
Thai Manee



(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
SNP Jewelry (last report December, 2006)
SNP Jewelry Limited Partnership at 386 Visuttikasat Road, Banpantom, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200 is using touts (both Thai and foreigners) at Wat Pho and the Grand Palace to lure tourists in with the same old promises of 100% profit when gems are resold outside of Thailand.
Sources at TAT informed us in the past how they felt humiliated to have such activities so damaging to tourism just a few blocks from their offices and be unable to do anything about it.
Photo of the SNP jewelry shop manager on the Thai gem scam group website.
Google Earth placemark

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
S.S.S. Jewelry Limited Partnership (right)

(Photo: Anthony Mak)

Thaevej Gems / Thewet Gems Shop (last report November, 2002)
Banglamphu
This is a shop renowned for openly beating up foreigners who complain against it. From a Nation article: Some shops have remained open despite pending legal cases. Thaevej Gems, for example, continues to do business even though a dozen fraud and physical-assault charges have been filed against it.


Universal (last report May 13, 2002 - closed May , 2002)
68 Teethong Road, Wat-Rachapit, Pranakorn
This is a prolific cheater and a well-connected shop. Tourists were advised by the police that they could be in danger from the scammers and their powerful backers if they pursued legal action.

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
closed February 19, 2002 - Thai Mikimoto


Vandee

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
222 Jakkapatdipong (Lan Luang) Pom Prab, Bangkok 11100

The Vandee location is not far from a local police station. The station was the site of a famous incident witnessed by several scammed tourists and reported in the International Herald Tribune: A member of the TAT [Tourism Authority of Thailand] staff walked out of the police station and kicked a cabinet and said that the whole place was so dirty he would have to leave.
In early 2002, Vandee was investigated by the Thai Gem Scam Group (a group of cheated tourists not associated with 2Bangkok.com) and embarrassed police made a big event in front of TV cameras of shutting down the shop. The next day it was open as usual. Also in 2002, police were reluctantly transporting cheated tourists back to the store and one of the policemen (not realizing one of the tourists spoke Thai) called ahead to warn the shop owner. When they arrived, a gang of thugs surrounded the tourists and threatened them as the police stood by and did nothing.
This shop was just a few blocks from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) headquarters. TAT officials privately informed 2B that they considered the presence of such a shop openly operating so close to them to be especially humiliating. Others at TAT have told 2B that there is nothing they could do about Vandee since it was a "sensitive matter." For Thais this means the shop is protected by extremely powerful and well-connected Thai institutions.
However, in October, 2002, Vandee was finally closed and all signage was removed from the building. As of January, 2003, amazingly enough, no "new" scam shop had opened in its place.

Names of scam shops operating from this location in the past:
closed February 5, 2002 - SukoThai
some staff formerly worked at Marin Gems (closed about March 14, 2002 at 121-123/125 Prachatipatai Rd, Bangkhunprom, (Sub-District) Pranakorn Bangkok 10200)


Yindee Lapidary Co. Ltd.
(first scam report June, 2002 - last report September, 2004)


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

1091/75-77 Petchburi Rd, Soi 33 (near D'Ma Pavilion Hotel), Makasan, Bangkok 10400 Tel: 253-1540-1, Fax: 651-6784

Yindee is a prolific scammer. We photographed the beautiful looking store at 7:45 am, December 22, 2002 (a Sunday morning), and it was already open and filled with tourists. The concierge at the D'Ma Pavilion Hotel (just steps away from Yindee) commented that the shop was "no good," the police "couldn't do anything to catch them" and they were always trying to cheat hotel guests. Tourist after tourist has been cheated (We went to Thailand in the hopes of having a wonderful honeymoon and now the whole experience has been overshadowed by this incident. We were very disappointed that such things happened to us and the local authorities did not inform us of such scams.). The police and the Tourism Authority of Thailand can't help...
Google Earth placemark


More shop names from the local press

"Help sought to combat gem scams," Bangkok Post, November 23, 2001 : The complainants identified the shops as Nopakao, Imperial Tailors, Sukhothai Gems, and Tanakorn Gems...

"27 Gem Shops Closed--19 Reopen Under New Names," Bangkok Post, July 19, 2001 - Some 27 jewellery shops had been ordered closed for their failure to comply, although 19 had since resumed trading under new names, he said. They are Khung Thep Gems Building Co, Ma Mare Gems Collection Co, T.G.J. Thai Centre Co, Bangkok Gems Export Centre, Bangkok Royal Gems & Jewelry, Yod Yiem, Maneeintr, Royal, Siam Jewelry Trading, Jewelry Centre 1986, Victoria Gems Centre Co, Regency Gems, Komkien Gems & Jewelry, Tourist Award Co, Blue Sapphire Gems Collection Co, Monpere Gems Export Co, Gorgeous Gems Export Co, Yindee Lapidary Co and Sapphire Centre.



Individual scam accounts



Gold Shops and the Gem Scam

Below are gold shops that are part of the scam by allowing people to buy gold with their credit card and swap the value of the gold for the gems (these shops are collected from our own reports and the Thai Gem Scam Group).



Bang (or Hang) Thong Thong Bai/Ranghang Thong Thong Bai
used by Chalermthai (formerly called Mahachai, Benjarong, U-Thong, and Chalermkeht)

This gold store is directly across from Pata Pinklao Department Store. It is one of linchpins of the gem scam and police tremble in fear at the mention of its name. It is used to cover the money trail by giving cash advances on credit cards and selling gold to tourists which is exchanged for overpriced jewels. What this means is that all the money from many gem scam shops is flowing back into this gold shop, but why isn't it ever mentioned in any "official" discussions of the scam? With perseverance, cheated tourists can demand police file reports on the gem shops and eventually the gem shop will have to change its name, but this gold shop is protected--police will outright refuse to mention it in reports
UPDATE: Gold stores were finally mentioned in a Tourist Police brochure circa January, 2004.
Also, this shop has multiple credit card machines under different names so when they swipe a credit card, the company name will be different from the name of the shop.

And there are also some more details and graphics in this in-depth scam report.

Please be careful about confronting this shop. It seems to be one of the key protected players in this decades-old scam and since such shops are maintained by the local mafia and "influential people in uniform," you will be on your own in fighting them. Also, all the younger, Western-educated translators who work for the Tourist Police will openly admit that the local police will never help in prosecuting the gold shops.

Below: photos of the shop


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Buan Hau Long
new Rd. Surawong, used by Creative Gems, 849/59-61 Chula Soi 6, Bantadtong Road, Phatumwan, Bangkok 10330

Hangthong Maesomboon
Central Rama 3, Room 311, Yannawa, Bangkok , used by Marin Gems, Vandee and Thai Mining

Jarukorn Goldsmith
2103 Phaholyothin Road, Samsennai Phayatha

Nguan Seng Heng Yaovarat Gyannawa (Gold Shop) & Nana Tai Exchange Booth
used by Burapa Lapidary, Thai Manee, Marin Gems and Sukothai

Sin Suwan Gold Store
Prasuman Road, Tel: 02-6292224-5, Tax ID: 3030323408


Sirada Diamond
used by Thai Mikimoto

Yongsengheng
used by Marin and Vandee (also spelt Yong Seng Heng)

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