Travelling and touring are among the greatest joys of life. Travellers visit new places, marvel at the wonders of the world, meet interesting people, learn about different customs and traditions, and generally report overall positive experiences of their adventures.
Travel is not without its dangers. Travellers are generally more vulnerable to those who want to take advantage of them for financial gain than are those who sit comfortably in their home countries. In fairly rare cases, this includes violence. Much more common is petty theft. Perhaps most annoying and hard to guard against are confidence games, scams and generally unethical business practices.
Scamming and very unethical behavior toward tourists and travellers in Thailand is, at worst, no worse than in most other places. At best, it is probably less of a problem in Thailand than in most places.
Visitors do need to be aware of these scams and highly unethical practices because once they have happened, it is almost impossible for the victims to get their money back. While the amounts of money involved often are not very large, scams – even small ones - can cause a lot of stress.
If one believes that one has been victimized or is being victimized by a scam of some magnitude then one should contact the Tourist Police, who have a generally good reputation of least trying to fix the problems. If more people report that they have been victimized, it will increase the probability that something can be done, and people can be warned.
Below are some of the situations which are most frequently related to scamming:
Every year, many people complain to the police that they were scammed at jewellery shops. Whether or not they were actually scammed is not clear. Whether the buyers were scammed depends upon how the merchandise was represented or misrepresented.
The central issue does not seem to be the authenticity of the items involved, the issue is their market value. Many of the buyers claimed to be experts and bought items in quantity intending to sell for a profit. If they were experts, then they should have been able to evaluate the financial marketability of what they bought.
However, based upon the fact that large numbers of customers to jewellery shops appear to be disappointed in the value of their purchases, buyers of jewellery items should beware.
Many tailors promise and deliver suits made in 24 hours, even though it is generally agreed among tailors that a good suit needs several fittings and can't possibly be made in 24 hours – actually, the suits are probably made in much less than 24 hours.
Customers should be very careful about buying such items, especially as they are probably planning to be out of the country soon and would have absolutely no way to complain latter. Buying clothing on the street, of course, is very dangerous at least in the aspect of getting what you pay for. The buyer often receives items with phony labels. While some of counterfeit material can actually be quite good – and approximate the "real thing" in quality, much of it is terrible.
A common scam done by travel agents is promising to do "visa runs" for customers who do not want to leave the country. This practice is illegal.
While some agents do actually take the passports they collect from customers out of the country, others simply affix phony stamps to the passports in their offices, or wherever.
This makes apprehension by the immigration authorities almost certain. It should also be noted that the process can take several days and it is not a good idea to be without a passport for any length of time.