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2nd November
2013

  Don't forget your gas mask, especially if you see the driver wearing one...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

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Taxi users warned of thefts after passengers have supposedly been drugged via the aircon
Link Here

pattaya taxiThailand's FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has warned passengers who use taxi services to be cautious as a number of passengers were looted by taxi drivers after the driver had put some chemical that will make you unconscious.

The taxi driver puts a chemical in to aircon system that will make you go unconscious, after that the culprit will plunder your bags and pockets.

The chemicals used that are being used by the taxi drivers hasn't been confirmed yet, but it was suspected that Chloroform was being used.

FDA officials suggested that if you suddenly feel nauseous while using the services of a taxi cab, you should roll down the taxi's windows.

 

26th August
2013

 Offsite Article: Unattended Luggage and Planted Drugs...

Link Here
airport security sniffer Australian couple speak of finding drugs planted in their luggage, thankfully just ahead of being stopped at the airport, and having to negotiate a payment to avoid prosecution

See article from theage.com.au

 

21st July
2013

  EU diplomats lay into crimes against tourists...

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Major international news coverage for Thailand's scams and extortion rackets
Link Here

EU flagFrom jet ski scams to robbery, assault and even police extortion, for the millions of tourists who flock to Thailand each year the kingdom does not always live up to its reputation as the Land of Smiles .

Now following a flurry of complaints, governments are urging the country to do more to protect the safety of the record numbers of foreigners visiting Thailand.

Drink spiking in bars can be a problem and sometimes people wake up to find they have been robbed. There are a lot of people who get drugged here, said Wal Brown, an Australia volunteer with the Thai police who patrols the thronging streets of Patong on the island of Phuket.

Visitors are warned to beware of strip clubs offering ping-pong shows where two beers can sometimes cost $100. Brown said :

Last year we had one guy hit with a hammer. He wouldn't pay. The tout got very aggressive and attacked him.

Bag snatching and robberies are also a regular occurrence on Phuket with tourists on motorbikes sometimes targeted on dimly-lit roads. One French girl hid in the bushes for three hours. Another Swedish girl stayed there until daybreak. They were on motorbikes and stopped by people with hatchets and screwdrivers and makeshift weapons, said Brown, who recommends people read their government's travel advice before visiting.

Millions visited Thailand last year and although most did not encounter any serious problems, diplomats say tougher action is needed to ensure their protection. David Lipman, head of the EU delegation to Thailand and one of more than a dozen European ambassadors who recently visited the island to air their concerns, told AFP:

There have been quite a lot of problems in Phuket. I don't think that the situation is getting better at all and that's why we really wanted to pursue this matter

One common scam on Thai beaches is to charge large sums of money (typically $1000) for pre-existing damage to jet skis, using threats of violence against people reluctant to pay. Lipman said:

It's a racket. The same with motorbikes as well. People rent out motorbikes. In the middle of the night they're stolen by the people who rented them out in the first place and the next day they say 'let's have our motorbike'.

Fines handed out by the local police for parking in the wrong place are another issue. We expect proper standards of behaviour from public officials. Let's face it, there is a bit of corruption going on and we hope that will be avoided.

Meanwhile Pattaya's mayor, who has seen the jet ski scam thrive under his tenure, claimed:

Ministry of Tourism and Sports is closely monitoring the issues...to increase safety the city will launch its own Pattaya Public Safety Centre next month where tourists can register complaints and get assistance.

Pattaya will also be one of the first destinations to have tourism court that will deal quickly with non-violent crimes against tourists.

 

4th May
2013

  Taxi Luggage Theft...

Passengers tricked into getting out of the taxi which then speeds off
Link Here

Thai taxi On April 3, a Nonthaburi couple left their home to go to Suvarnabhumi airport to catch a flight to India. They didn't make it.

Everything seemed normal when they entered an orange taxi outside their home, but as they drove along Ratchapruek Road, the cab slowed to a stop, apparently out of petrol.

The driver turned around in his seat and told them that he was disabled and needed them to push the car to the side of the road for him. The couple obliged.

The husband left the cab first, followed by his wife. The moment they were out of the car, the driver restarted the taxi and sped off, taking with him all of their belongings.

Without money or phones, the desperate couple set out on foot to the nearest police station in Nonthaburi's Muang district to report the incident. They walked for more than an hour.

The police told them there was little hope of finding the driver, but Nonthaburi police commander Pol Maj Gen Thanayut Wuthicharasthamrong had other ideas and through some great police work tracked down the thieving taxi driver.

 

24th August
2012

 Updated: Jet Ski Scam...

Extortionists claim non-existent damages to the tune of a thousand dollars and more
Link Here

Jet skisThai authorities have arrested the leader of a Thai mafia gang and charged with him with extortion based solely on the evidence of a British television documentary.

Police today were holding a Thai known locally a JJ Naiman after he was seen on a British television programme succeeding in extorting over £1000 from a British Royal Marine who had rented a jet-ski on the holiday island of Phuket.

The province's governor Wichai Praisa-nob also stepped into the row today and called a meeting of police, jet-ski operators, Marine Police, and local government officials to discuss what action would be taken. They are also to be shown the film. He said he was considering banning jet skis from the island.

The British documentary Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand , which went to air on Monday on the Bravo Channel, showed Royal Marines, who arrived in Phuket on HMS Bulwark, after a tour of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, being held at gun point in a local boat yard run by local mafia.

The row was only resolved after the arrival of Marine Police Sergeant Tim Wright who defused the situation but not before exposing the Thai gangleader as a ‘corrupt crook'. The Marine eventually paid just over £600.

Tim Wright said: These men openly threatened serving military personnel whilst on R&R in Thailand. The important thing is that I got them out of there with no one being hurt, other than pride and in the wallet. I don't remember swearing but apologise if I did! The other important thing to remember is don't hire jet skis in Thailand.

The jet-ski con is widespread. Tourists are forced to pay for damage which they clearly have not created, but the mafia gangs have had assistance from corrupt police officers, who, according to one source, claim 20 per cent.

Update: Like Putty in the Scammers' Hands

24th August 2012. See article from stickmanbangkok.com

The way Pattaya jet ski scammers get away with extortion is that they use water-soluble putty over damage, spray paint, then take a before picture with a customer. Water splashing dissolves the putty, so they have picture proof of damage. This was told to me by an honest beach vendor who is sick of seeing angry tourists getting ripped off.

Other Examples

Pattaya, February 2010 , Pattaya Daily News

David Marshall, a British national presented himself to Pattaya Police, suffering from a severely swollen face, black eye and broken tooth. He reported to police that he had been bashed by a group of Thai men after hiring a Jetski from a Pattaya Beach operator close to Soi 13 on Pattaya Beach Road.

It is alleged that once he had returned the jetski's the operators inspected the vehicles, before explaining that Marshall will have to pay for mythical damages done to the bottom of the Jetski he was riding. Marshall claims, that he calmly tried to explain to the operator that he was not responsible for any damage evident on the Jetski, as he had not been involved in an accident or hit anything in the water. He subsequently refused to pay the man any money for the damages.

The argument became very heated, ending with the three Thai Jetski operators attacking Mr. Marshall before another two Thai men walking past the incident also joined in on the attack. Mr. Marshall was able to escape the onslaught, but not before being hit several times in the face causing him numerous injuries.

Pattaya, September 2009 , Pattaya One News

In a scene reminiscent of the recent TV show broadcast in UK called Big Trouble in Thailand , we were made aware of a potential Jet Ski scam taking place on Pattaya Beach on Monday Afternoon.

Opposite the Royal Garden Plaza, two Tourists thought to be of Indian Nationality had been detained following an alleged Jet Ski Accident. We were shown the damage sustained to both Jet Ski's and the damage appeared “fresh”. As it the norm in these types of cases a financial settlement was discussed at the scene to avoid the case being taken any further.

The Jet Ski Operator, Khun Noot, asked for 12,000 Baht to cover the damage of both Jet Ski's. Both Tourists refused to pay and were therefore taken to Pattaya Police Station to continue the negotiations.

On the way, both men decided to offer the Jet Ski Operator 10,000 Baht which was duly accepted. Payment was handed over and the two men who were accompanied by three other friends went on their way.

Pattaya, December 2007. From Pattaya Secrets

My mates hired a jetski on Pattaya beach one morning after a night out. Its fair to say they had a few drinks.

The two of them went out on the jetski for half an hour each. Flying around on the thing they hit a wave at an angle, and flipped it.

Thai guys on beach called them in and said they broke it. Even though dam thing was going fine. They started demanding 9000 Baht to fix it. Even though it was going great and ten minutes later someone else jumped on.

Needless to say my mates refused and went back to the hotel.

Half an hour later, the Thai guys were at the hotel demanding the money along with a Cop.

In fear of getting lifted or worse, they paid the fine and stayed away from Pattaya beach.

Pattaya, December 2007. From Thai Visa

An American and his tilac took to the waves. I said in jest to my girlfriend, wonder how much this is going to cost the guy  she went mad, not good to talk like this she said. Anyway cut to the chase 10,000 was asked for a small scratch that the Yank did not do, I was watching him, he said call the cops I'm not paying and after an hour, off they went to the friendly arbitrators at soi 9, I told him to settle there on the beach as my buddies had the same happen, as I reported here on this site. It ended up costing them 80,000 at the cop shop. So sad this is killing the tourist trade.

 

21st April
2012
  

Extract: Dangerous Thailand...

Indian tourists warned not to take out jet skis so as to avoid the extortion rackets
Link Here

bangalore mirror logo But the Eden of their dreams has a dark underbelly which reveals itself on the beaches of Phuket and Pattaya, a local mafia-run jet ski scam which has ripped off scores of foreign tourists. The racketeers' modus operandi is simple: they rent out jet skis, which have some damage in a not-so-discernible place, to vacationers at attractive rates. Then, when the joyride is over, they pounce on the unsuspecting tourists for having caused the damage and extort huge amounts from them, quite often at knifepoint.

...Read the full article

 

1st April
2011
  

Wow!...

Renewing lifetime membership at California WOW gym
Link Here

california wow logoJust a word of warning about renewing lifetime membership each year.

Lifetime membership has to be renewed every year with a small renewal fee.

But the snag is that they don't remind you when this is due, and if you miss it then the supposedly lifetime membership is cancelled. There is then a substantial charge to re-activate the membership.

 

28th March
2011
  

Offsite: National Monuments Closed for Holidays...

Helpful scam artists happy to suggest alternatives
Link Here

wat arunYou are walking with your family towards the ferry that will take you across the river when a well-dressed young man stops you and identifies himself in perfect English as a medical doctor, a professor of engineering at a local university or maybe a former exchange student in your country who has just recently returned to Thailand. He asks where you're going, and you tell him.

Oh, he says, what a pity. The temple is closed because tomorrow is a national holiday. I have an idea, though, since your country has been so kind to me. My cousin runs a jewelry shop, a special one, where all the prices are wholesale and there's no bargaining. Since you have obviously been inconvenienced, I'll call him and see if he will accept a below-wholesale discount for you.

He asks your name, calls someone, a taxi shows up, and you're driven to a jewelry shop.

Don't buy at this shop. The goods may be genuine, but they'll be grossly overpriced.

...Read the full article

 

26th January
2011
  

Offsite: False Damage and Real Threat...

Australians warned off hiring jet skis in Thailand..
Link Here

jet skisAustralian holidaymakers are being conned out of cash and threatened with violence in a Thailand jet ski scam.

The sting, which targets tourists at some beaches across the country including Phuket and Pattaya, sees travellers forced to pay hefty compensation for damage to jet skis that they did not actually cause.

While the scam has been going on for years, there have been an increasing number of violent threats against tourists who dispute the fee, with locals warning that it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.

Earlier this week a group of Australians holidaying in Phuket fell victim to the scam. The distressed Melbourne group spent two hours arguing a 56,500 baht (Aus $1800) fee for damage to four jet-skis they say they did not cause, before eventually paying up and leaving in tears.

During another incident in November a knife was pulled on an Irish tourist in Pattaya after he refused to pay for alleged damage to a jet ski.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns of the scam on its website, highlighting Phuket as an area of concern: Some travellers have reported that, after returning hired jet skis, they have been confronted by gangs claiming that the tourist damaged the jet ski . There have been reported instances of such gangs threatening violence, including at knifepoint, if a large sum of money in compensation for the alleged damage is not paid.

...Read the full article

 

5th September
2010
  

Updated: The Litter Scam...

Skytrain security guards make false accusations about littering
Link Here

SkytrainA Danish citizen was arrested at the Siam Skytrain Station in Bangkok recently! The guards accused him of throwing a cigarette on the ground.

Only problem: the guy works in a hospital and is a non smoker and said he had nothing to do with the case. The Dane was brought into a room and he was not allowed to go until he paid 10,000 Baht to the security guards.

Anaesthetist Nils Georgsen from Copenhagen warns against being extorted money from Thai governement employees.

For Georgesen it went all wrong while he was waiting for a train at Siam Skytrain station, during a visit to Thailand's capital.

I didn't suspect anything. All was quiet. Then, suddenly a Skytrain security guard came and pointed at a cigarette but on the platform , Nils Georgsen explains. Smoking is not allowed on the station. But despite the explanations from the Danish tourist that he is a non-smoker and that he he didn't show anything, he was still escorted to a guard room and surrounded by security guards.

They wanted money. They demanded 10,000 Baht. This was no joke. They were very threatening. I tried to explain that I am a non-smoker, but they wouldn't budge. They just wanted money explains the Danish anaesthetist.

He tried to call the tourist police but the guards didn't allow him to. Instead he managed to negotiate the amount down to 2000 Baht. I was then allowed to leave. This was the most important .

Update: Bangkok Municipal Officers

23rd November 2009. From Thai Visa

These guys in the uniforms are usually not Police or Tourist Police. They are Thesakij, or Bangkok's own Municipal Officers. They have an emblem on the shoulders of their uniforms  copied from a tin of Heinz soup. These are the guys who are responsible for keeping the sidewalks clear of vendors.

I decided to sit on the steps outside the centre, sip my drink and watch the world go by for 10 minutes or so. Having almost finished my drink, I got up and had just started to walk in the direction of the BTS, when a voice from behind me said Excuse me sir . I turned around to see a man in paramilitary type uniform. Not a uniform that I immediately recognised. He informed me in broken English that he was a policemen, and that he had seen me stub out my cigarette and drop it on the floor. He told me that I had committed a serious offence and that I would have to pay a fine.

I politely informed him that he must be mistaken. He asked why. I told him that I've never smoked in my life. He said that he had seen me and that he was not blind. He then produced a cigarette stub from his pocket and told me this was the evidence. He then demanded I hand over 2000 Baht. I tried to reason with him, I even offered to turn out my pockets to prove that I neither had any cigarettes on me or matches/lighter. He was having none of it.You break the law, you have to pay. You not pay, you go to prison for long time. By now he had taken a pad from his back pocket and began writing on it. He then gave me a piece of paper from the pad and again demanded that I hand over 2000 baht.

I realised that this was some sort of scam. The guy was clearly after tea money. But as I did not know if he was a real policeman or not, I had no idea how I was going to get out of this situation without creating a scene, and possibly being arrested if he was a real policeman.

Update: Tourists warned about cigarette police'

5th September 2010. See  article from  bangkokpost.com

beware litter police scamForeign tourists have been told to take a hard line with the thetsakij, or Bangkok's city inspectors, who have been accused of unfairly targeting them to issue fines for littering.

Manit Techa-apichoke, deputy director of the City Law Enforcement Department, said foreigners who feel they have been unfairly targeted by the thetsakij should refuse to pay the fines.

He said they should alert the nearest district office or police officer, so action can be taken against the inspectors.

Manit's statement comes on the heels of an investigation published in last Sunday's Spectrum that revealed foreign tourists, particularly those on Sukhumvit Road, were targeted by thetsakij to pay fines for littering, while Thais committing similar offences were largely ignored.

The report, which garnered more than 150 comments online, revealed that many of those targeted by the thetsakij were not issued receipts.

The Spectrum investigation also found that very few rubbish bins were present in areas where the thetsakij operate, leading some to suspect that they were removed to increase the likelihood that foreigners would litter.

Foreigners interviewed by Spectrum investigators said that it seemed as if inspectors were standing by ready to swoop immediately once they littered.

Inspectors demanded they pay the fines on the spot, telling them that if they wanted to take the matter to a nearby district office or police station, they would end up paying much more.

Manit said any city inspectors found guilty of extortion would be sacked immediately.

Members of the public and tourists can call City Hall's hotline at 1555 to report any attempts at extortion by city inspectors.

 

6th June
2010
  

Updated: ATM Fees...

All Thai banks charge 150 Baht for withdrawal using foreign card
Link Here

ATM30th September 2009

The cartel of all Thai banks got together and levied and extortionate charge on ATM withdrawals using foreign cards.

Each withdrawal is now charged at 150 Baht (£2.90)

Update: Exceptions

8th February 2010

AEON ATMs still have a zero charge and are located at Carrefour on Pattaya Central Road, Tesco Lotus on Pattaya North Road and HomePro on Sukumvit near Pattaya South Road junction.

Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri) ATMs have a zero charge just for a subset of cards, namely VISA Debit Cards. Other cards are charged the usual 150 Baht. These machines are common around Pattaya.

Ray points out that asking for a cash advance on a card from a bank teller avoids the Thai ATM charge and is settled at the same exchange rate.

Update: Bank of Ayudhya Start Charging

6th June 2010

It is reported that Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri) ATMs have now starting the extortionate 150 Baht (£3.20) ATM charge.

AEON ATMs still have a zero charge and are located at Carrefour on Pattaya Central Road, Tesco Lotus on Pattaya North Road and HomePro on Sukumvit near Pattaya South Road junction.

 

5th April
2010
  

Offsite: Stitched Up...

Beware of Thai tailors and their touts
Link Here

thai tailorBehind the glossy magazine ads offering unbelievable bargains and plushly decorated shops there is a dark side to the tailoring trade, where tourists are often sold clothes that would only fit a shop window mannequin.

Following complaints from many tourists, Spectrum conducted an investigation into the business that included interviews with tailor shop owners, customs officials, sellers of illegally imported fabrics, workers and foreign customers.

With hundreds of tailor shops in Bangkok, Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Pattaya and other tourist spots, it has became a huge industry generating large profits.

One owner of a reputable tailor shop on Sukhumvit Road said: I estimate that the majority of tailor shops in Thailand are bad, and only 5% are honest. Among the dozens of tailors on this road [Sukhumvit], only two or three are good.

...Read full article

 

30th September
2009
  

Pickpockets on Baht Buses...

If you get surrounded or distracted, it may be pickpockets
Link Here

Baht bus A warning to travellers on Baht Buses of the potential for wallet theft of foreigners sitting up close and personal.

If you feel that you are being surrounded...then extricate yourself immediately.

Take particular care when groups of ladies/lady boys get on particularly if they move seats or don't sit together.

Another characteristic is ladies with large and empty shopping bags that sit across their laps onto yours. It is probably hiding what their evil hands are up to.

Examples

From Pattaya Addicts

Jumped on a baht bus in Jomtien to go into Pattaya. I was the only person on the bus at the time and was sitting at the very end of the bench at the back.

3 young women got on. One made a move to sit on my lap so I would move over and let her sit on the end, one sat across from me, and the other on my left. Then the girl opposite and the girl on my left engaged me in a very friendly conversation. The one on my right, where my wallet was, ignored me. So you see the modus operandi here.

I didn't notice that my wallet was gone until sometime later. So if 2 or three girls get on a baht bus with you and sit all around you, and seem a little more friendly than normal, beware!

From Party Animal

I waved down an empty baht bus to take me to my hotel. I was switching hotels. It was a taxi driver and a female companion - both in their late 40's. We agreed a fee of 100 baht and I explained where my hotel was. The woman said she was not sure where this was but suggested that I sit in the front with the taxi driver whilst she minded my bags in the back. It seemed that she was being very helpful especially as she gave me a beautiful smile.

I immediately thought this was a risk but dismissed it because this was a 'licensed' taxi after all, a respectable looking middle-aged couple and the bags were padlocked. I had also attached the bags together with a small wire. If the woman jumped off the baht bus I would hear her and it was only a short journey of less than 10 minutes.

When we got to my hotel and the bus was pulling away out of sight I noticed that one of the padlocks was open. The woman had used the wire to pull against the side of one of the flimsier padlocks and force it open. Luckily I did not have any money in that particular bag.

I did report the matter to the police near Soi 9 however they said that many of the taxis are actually unlicensed even though they have numbers and so cannot be traced. They were not interested in the details of the crime in order to warn the public or to trace the driver as their main function is to note down what you think you have lost so that you can have a police report for insurance purposes

From Pattaya Today

The ploy works something like this. A person of indeterminate gender, a short plump girl in her twenties, a child aged around 10 and her mother, aged in her thirties will either board or already be riding a baht bus.

They might sound like the ensemble line-up of a bad movie, but the trick is simple. The mother makes sure she sits as close to the intended victim as possible, as does the katoey. The child then begins playfully bouncing around the victim's legs and knees while the plump girl engages the person in conversation. Distracted by the chattering girl and leery of the katoey, the victim may not be aware his pocket is being well and truly picked.

The driver then took off before police could be summoned. The question is whether the driver of the baht bus is also in on the act. The only way to determine this, of course, is for passengers to take careful note of the number of the baht bus they are on at any time. I do this routinely, in case there are problems later.

From Pattaya Secrets

I jumped on a baht bus which was full at this time of day 4.30 pm. I had to stand at the end all the way and 4 women jumped on , one pushed into a seat on my right , the other two pushed in opposite and a younger one stood up beside me. This was all normal so far and then the 2 older women started talking about my shopping. The younger girl then joins in and starts asking me the usual questions , where you come from etc etc.

I am perfectly at ease with all this and we carry along the road and get off as the baht bus turns into second road. The women all jump off as well. I get the feeling something isnt quite right and I realise my wallet has been snatched from my pocket. I try compose and take stock of the situation and I see the 4 women immediately get on motorbike taxis and shoot off. This happened so quick and was so professional that I was pretty stunned.

From Pattaya Secrets

On the relatively full bus by myself they got on at Thappraya Road. Again, they are 2 older women, one with a baby, a younger woman and a teenage boy. I twigged and they are off in about 100m after they realise there is nothing to steal.

From Pattaya Talk

I was alone on a Baht Bus on Beach road about 8 O'clock in the evening..

3 girls got on the bus ...1 pretty girl sat opposite me, the other 2 sat either side of me....should have copped it then...but didn't.

While the pretty girl opposite engaged me in some small talk, the one on my left chipping in on the conversation....the one on my right did the business...

The bus stopped a few times to let people on...and the bum shuffle going on, I was relieved of 4000 baht in the zipped pocket of my cargo shorts.

From Pattaya Secrets

Gang of 4 Thais. 1 MAN + 3 WOMEN

They travel from 'Tops' north towards Dolphin roundabout, and continue through to Beach Road/Central road.....then start again.

I wait, outside Tops for EMPTY taxi, step on; then a Thai male hops on with big smile/shake hands/how are you/where you from....all bollocks.

50 metres down the second road, 3 Thai bitches flag down the taxi and hop on; one bitch stands on the back fender, the two others fumble around SWAPPING SEATS......then the 3rd bitch, pretends to find a seat, falls across me......fumble fumble.......you can guess the rest.

 

20th August
2009
  

Forgetful Memory Sticks...

Beware of fake memory sticks
Link Here

Kingston DataTravellerA neighbour has family who run one of the small phone/hardware stalls at Tuk Com. So I often give them a try when shopping there.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a couple of memory sticks from them and they kindly offered a bit of extra value by putting some goodies on.

Well all was well until I tried to fill up the memory. Closer inspection and a bit of guess work revealed that the supposedly 8GB actually only had 2GB of memory. The parameters of the stick had been fiddled to convince FileManager that there was 8GB but writing to the last 6GB just went down a black hole.

It took several visits and lost of lost face before the stall holders admitted it was a copy and I got a real replacement. I think the stallholders knew it was a copy but genuinely thought it was still 8GB.

The trick is the giveaway data they give you, it means that you don't get to inspect the packet which is then rapidly consigned to the waste bin.

 

22nd July
2009
  

Updated: Scary Airport Extortion Scam...

Warning to avoid duty free shops at Bangkok Airport
Link Here

Duty Free at Bagkok AirportA British couple who were falsely accused of shoplifting in Bangkok airport and were forced to pay £8,000 in bribes to secure their release are to take legal action for compensation.

They were the victims of an extortion racket that has ensnared other foreign travellers at the airport, which handles most of the 800,000 British visitors to Thailand every year.

Stephen Ingram and Xi Lin both technology professionals from Cambridge, were detained by security guards as they went to board Qantas flight QF1 to London on the night of Saturday, April 25.

They were accused of taking a Givenchy wallet worth £121 from a King Power duty-free shop and were handed over to the police. An official release order from the local Thai prosecutor's office subsequently conceded there was no evidence against them.

They were freed five days later after a frightening ordeal in which they said they were threatened and held against their will at a cheap motel on the airport perimeter until they had handed over the money.

The bribes were paid to an intermediary named Sunil “Tony” Rathnayaka, a Sri Lankan national in his fifties who works as a “volunteer” interpreter for Thailand's tourist police. Last week Rathnayaka admitted in a telephone interview that he had received cash and money transfers amounting to more than £7,000 from the Britons. He said the money was for police bail and for a payment to a figure he called “Little Big Man” who could withdraw the case against them.

In Thailand everyone knows it's like that. They can go to jail or they can just pay a fine and go home. It is corruption, you know? Rathnayaka also agreed that the “bail” — about £4,000 — was never returned to Ingram and Xi. Thai law says bail should be refunded.

In a detailed statement the couple said they were first detained at an airport office of the tourist police and later taken to cells at a police station in an isolated modern building on the fringes of the airport.

During that time, Rathnayaka warned them not to tell anyone about their plight, especially the British embassy, lawyers, friends, family or the press.

However, on April 27 they sneaked out of the hotel and found their way to the embassy, where they met Kate Dufall, the pro-consul. According to the couple, she told them the embassy could not interfere with the Thai legal system and put them in contact with Prachaya Vijitpokin, a lawyer. Vijitpokin and a colleague, Kittamert Engchountada, of the Lawyers Association of Thailand, urged them to stay in the country to fight the case and have since assembled a dossier for potential prosecutions.

However, Ingram said the couple were so terrified by this stage that they decided to meet the demands for money, which they raised by bank transfers from Britain direct to Rathnayaka's account. The Sunday Times has copies of the transactions.

Ingram and Xi were put on a British Airways flight to London early on Friday, May 1, having received their passports with official documents from prosecutors and police stating that no charges were to be brought against them.

They have said they are willing to return to Thailand and testify to try to stop the extortion if the government will guarantee their safety. That could become a priority for Thailand, which has suffered a series of blows to its tourist industry through economic and political upheaval.

Inquiries last week established that Rathnayaka and his accomplices have continued preying on tourists who end up in police custody after being accused of theft from the airport duty-free shop.

Officials at the Danish embassy confirmed that a Danish woman fell into Rathnayaka's hands about two weeks ago and was allowed to leave Thailand only after handing over more than £4,500.

The Foreign Office said consular officials had offered to raise the case with the Thai authorities at the time but had been asked by the couple not to intervene.

Update: CCTV Footage

King Power have released CCTV footage raising the possibility that the couple had stolen the wallet.

See www.kingpower.com/2009/popup/pop_case2.html#

But plenty more explaining required yet

See Irish scientist escapes Thai airport shoplifting charge in flight to freedom from andrew-drummond.com

Update: On Going Scam Can't be Written off by King Power CCTV release

21st July 2009. Based on article from news.bbc.co.uk

Now new allegations have been made that a number of passengers are being detained every month in the duty free area on suspicion of shoplifting, and then held by the police until they pay large sums of money to buy their freedom.

That is what happened to Stephen Ingram and Xi Lin, two IT experts from Cambridge, as they were about to board their flight to London on the night of 25 April this year.

The company that owns the duty free shop, King Power, has since put the CCTV video on its website, which does appear to show her putting something in her bag. However the security guards found no wallet on either of them.

Despite that, they were both taken from the departure gate, back through immigration, and held in an airport police office. That is when their ordeal started to become frightening.

The BBC has now spoken to Tony and the regional police commander, Colonel Teeradej Phanuphan. They both say Tony was merely helping the couple with translation, and raising bail to keep them out of prison.

Colonel Teeradej says he will investigate any possible irregularities in their treatment. But he said any arrangement between the couple and Tony was a private affair, which did not involve the police.

Letters of complaint to the papers here in Thailand make it clear that passengers are regularly detained at the airport for alleged shoplifting, and then made to pay middlemen to win their freedom.

The Danish Embassy says one of its nationals was recently subjected to a very similar scam, and earlier this month an Irish scientist managed to flee Thailand with her husband and one year-old son after being arrested at the airport and accused of stealing an eyeliner worth around £17.

Tony told the BBC that so far this year he has "helped" about 150 foreigners in trouble with the police. He says sometimes he does it for no charge.

The British Embassy has also warned passengers at Bangkok Airport to take care not to move items around in the duty free shopping area before paying for them, as this could result in arrest and imprisonment.

Update: Transport Minister admits that there is an airport scam problem

22nd July 2009. Based on article from bangkokpost.com

Transport Minister Sohpon Zarun has ordered Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) to step up measures at Suvarnabhumi and other airports to prevent extortion scams.

Sohpon gave the order during his inspection trip to Suvarnabhumi airport after a British couple clamed they were the victims of an extortion scam after being accused of shoplifting from a duty free shop. The couple's claim was reported by the BBC.

The transport minister was also said to have been criticised by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for failing to keep the airport to international standards.

Sohpon said he had ordered the AoT to arrange its officials to take care of foreign tourists in case they are engaged in a legal dispute and required to be handed over to police investigators. During this process, the tourists must be escorted by airport officials and embassies of their countries must be informed. This is to prevent members of the scam gangs intervening and offering help.

He said all embassies will be informed that if their citizens encounter this problem they should file a complaint with the Transport Ministry immediately.

The minister said the British couple's claim will also be investigated and legal action will be taken against those found to have been involved in the scam.

 

8th July
2009
  

Child Thieves...

Take care when approached by street urchins and flower sellers
Link Here

Urchin, flower seller and thiefA group of child thieves are operating around the Walking street and Soi Marine Plaza, some as young as 5 or 6.

  • A kid comes up to me with roses in hand, I say no thanks, he comes in closer to hug me, one hand goes around my waist, the other hand is holding roses with 1 finger and thumb, the other fingers are in the top of my pocket trying to lift out any notes I may have around the top of the jeans front pocket.
     
  • 6am in the morning, a gang of no less than 5 kids jump me with hugs, its a frenzy, I'm grabbing a lads hands which are heading straight for my front pockets, another is undoing the buttons on my back jeans pockets and I'm virtually running away checking that they haven't managed to get anything.
     
  • Walking along Walking street , a small girl comes along to give me a hug, I dissuade her from hugging me, she lets me walk past her, then grabs my wrist with both hands, as if to pull me back, at the same time, she's undoing the clasp of my watch and nearly gets it too.

So beware, they will hug you, surround you, pull you, all seemingly in the name of fun, but beware because they are trying to rob you and they have a minder too who is always close by should they get a problem.

 

31st March
2009
  

Pattaya Metered Taxis...

Never heard of meter being used yet
Link Here

Pattaya Metered TaxiThailand's metered taxi rates are very cheap. But unfortunately in Pattaya the taxis simply won't accept standard rates and will never turn on the meter.

In fact the metered taxis have negotiated rates that are more expensive than the negotiated rates on Baht buses. Easily the most expensive way to get around Pattaya.

 

1st December
2008
  

Kidnapped by Baht Bus...

Delivered at break neck speed to bandits and thieves
Link Here

Baht busAt 3am I flagged down a moving bahtbus at Soi Diamond/2nd road... I jumped on it without giving it a second thought, I was the only one on board...

At first everything was cool, he was driving along 2nd road towards Pattaya Klang... at Kiss restaurant I rang the bell and wanted it to stop... it was the usual loud bahtbus bell...but he didn't stop... at first I thought that he's looking for a better place to stop but there was no sign of him slowing down... at Soi Honey Inn I rang the bell again.... he wouldn't stop, he even started speeding... that's when I knew something was wrong... I rang the bell again before Pattaya Klang... to no effect... I saw the red lights at Pattaya Klang road and was relieved... I thought I just jump out when he has to stop... but he didn't stop, he turned right into Central Patts road and speeded on... I was really scared at this time.... when he had to slow down a bit to make a turn into another side-road I just jumped out... the landing was hard and I was lucky that I didn't got hit by the traffic... and he just drove on... a nice and worried motosai dude drove me home then... at first I thoght that I got away lucky with a few scratches on my left hand and knee but when I returned back to Germany a week later and the pain was still there I had an MRI done... result: Broken scaphoid! Thats not good news.

I don't know where he wanted to drive me to... I guess a dark side alley with a few Thai blokes and machetes, most Thai guys that I talked with afterwards said that I was lucky to still be alive and did the right thing in jumping out....

 

25th August
2008
  

Maid Made off with the Valuables...

Maid drugged the food and stole the valuables
Link Here

Thai maid Nongnuch Tabthong, 25, was arrested at the Panjamitr Nursing Home on charges of stealing valuables.

Nongnuch put weed-killing herbicide into the kaeng som which  caused the house owner to lose consciousness. After awakening from a deep sleep, Mrs Phetpaya could not find Nongnuch and her gold necklace and bracelet, altogether weighing five baht.

Pol Col Sarawuth quoted Nongnuch as admitting later that she had applied for a job at many maid recruitment centres. She landed a job as a housekeeper at a condominium in the Ramkhamhaeng area. On the first working day, she used the same treacherous trick and fled with a television set and two mobile phones.

The tactic was re-employed when she was employed as a caretaker for an elderly person in Min Buri district, where she stole many valuables, worth up to 152,000 baht, from the house.

However, Nongnuch finally ran out of luck when the woman returned to Panjamitr again in search of a job and she was immediately recognised and taken to the police.

 

18th August
2008
  

Barcode Reader Failure...

Check the prices in a convenience store
Link Here

7/11 There's a scam perpetrated by the staff at a branch of a large chain of convenience stores. It tends to happen after midnight in tourist areas when the customers are predominantly liquored up Westerners. 

The scam sees the staff pretend that the bar code reader is not working on the cash register, so the clerk writes down what you buy, then rings up the total on a small adding machine.

But the prices are inflated and most items are overcharged. What the staff then do is go and ring it up on the cash register a little later at the real price and the difference between what was charged and what was rung up is their profit. Clever.

So if the barcode reader isn't working at the convenience store, it's a good idea to check and see that you are being charged the right price.



June 2008    Hanging the Pumps ...
 
Beware when you fill up your car
Petrol StationI was at a service station to fill up, when I observed an older worker filling a motorcycle and not resetting the pump and before filling the next vehicle.

It's called "hanging the pumps" . Been happening for years.

It is particularly applicable to service stations serving motorbikes and cars. Not resetting the pumps after a filling up a car is easily noticeable, but 100 Baht of petrol for a bike is not likely to be spotted when filling up the following car.

  Fill Her Up Please (Dem Tan Krup)

From Pattaya Secrets

I asked for Dem Tan Krup and the little girl said nothing but ka then I noticed an older guy come over to use the pump and fill my truck BUT he stopped the fill at 200thb and asked for 200thb I said no I want Dem.

Oh Den he says and off he goes to resume filling the tank any way it just registers later that he did not reset the pump from the 200thb but just continued. Anyway he asked for 810thb as there was 610thb on the pump and 200thb.

I was screwed out of 200thb as the guy had not actually restarted the fill, he had just continued.

 

January 2008    Beach Road Surveys ...
 
A set up for a timeshare hard sell
Survey clipboardIf you have ever walked along Pattaya's Beach Road then you will surely have been stopped by attractive young people carrying clipboards asking you to fill out a 'survey'

They appeal to people's better nature by saying that they will receive 20 Baht commission for each completed survey.

Of course the survey is a sham, and they are actually after contact details so that high pressure salesman can ring your hotel and try and sell you timeshare holiday homes.

Alternatively, there is a thank you entry into a prize draw which you always win and somehow get taken to luxury apartments in Jomtien to claim the prize. Guess what, there are high pressure salesmen waiting there to greet you.

If you don't want the attentions of the Beach Road youngsters, the merest shooing away gesture is sufficient. If you feel like a chat with a cutie, at least give them a false address, otherwise you will only have to take the hotel phone off the hook.

Also be on the lookout for farangs who give out scratch cards. 'Winning' cards again will be a set up for the timeshare high pressure sales session.

From Pattaya Talk

I fell for this and answered the questions because I felt sorry for the cutie who explained that she was on commission and smiled ever so nicely - she told me I had won a prize and must go with her to Jomtien to claim the prize - I went along with it and ended up talking with a guy from Amsterdam who was trying to sell timeshare holidays anywhere in the world for an immediate payment of £200.

I was introduced to the owner of the 'Company' a guy who originates from Oldham in Lancashire - went to Pattaya 9 years ago and didn't go home.

Asked him for contract to inspect the small print and was told You can see the contract after you pay the £200

Ever so politely declined the offer, thanked them for the free coffee, lunch and taxi back to Soi 7.

Saw the girl the next day who thanked me because she got her commission - no problem as long as you don't get sucked in and pay for the timeshare thing.

The prize was a two week holiday in the back of beyond - ended up giving that to the taxi driver!

From Pattaya Secrets

The hard sell is to join a holiday club, at £15,000-£20,000 a go.

I went to one of there presentations, was told it would be no longer than 1 hour, over 4 hours later, they still would not let me leave the building. I ended up getting a little stressed at this, and started to swear quite a bit, as they would not let me leave. I eventually managed to get out

See full article from the Scotsman

Scratchcard touts abroad are trapping tourists into buying holiday club membership and timeshare trials, Holiday Which? magazine has warned.

Undercover researchers found that scratchcard touts in popular resorts were luring British tourists into sales presentations with the promise of "star prizes".

To get the prizes, "winners" often have to attend lengthy presentations where they are sold membership of holiday clubs or timeshare trials.

Holiday Which? researchers, posing as an engaged couple, were approached by touts and enticed to two presentations, where they were bombarded with baffling information for up to five hours. The sales staff would not reveal the cost of membership until near the end of the presentations.

At both sessions the "couple" were pressured to sign up and pay money on the spot without the chance to think it over.

The magazine said people in the UK were also being targeted via a letter or a phone call telling them they had won a holiday prize.

We welcome EU proposals which should prevent companies from demanding money on the spot for these types of holiday products.

In the meantime we would advise holidaymakers to avoid scratchcard touts at all costs and not to buy into a holiday club.

 

September 2007

    Fake ATM Keypads ...

 


ATM fake cover platesFalse plates covering keypad and card slot allow card cloning

From The Nation

Commercial banks and the police, are battling a new ATM theft technique in which fake keypads record pin numbers and personal information. The thieves then produce clone cards to empty bank accounts.

Thai Bankers' Association secretary-general Twatchai Yongkittikul said the fake keypads feel hard to the touch and that cardholders should immediately cancel their transaction if the keypad feels strange and notify the bank immediately.

In a TV interview yesterday, Twatchai said he believed it was a large-scale operation that involves computer experts and people with experience in plastic and rubber products, as the fake keypads looked very much like the real thing.

According to Twatchai, the technique also involved the use of false decoders, which record personal information of cardholders stored in the magnetic strip on ATM cards. The thieves then used two sets of information - pin numbers and cardholder's information - to produce cloned ATM cards to withdraw money.

 

May 2007

    Credit Card Rip Off ...

 


Don't sign credit card bills showing farang currency

Based on an article from Thai Visa

Visa cardWhen using farang credit / debit cards in Thailand, depending on the retail outlet, you sometimes get the bill already converted from Thai Baht to your local currency, in my case, UK pounds. This seems to becoming more common. Not all retailers do it, but many do and it is a rip off.

After I signed for a 799 Baht bill in a Fuji restaurant I took a closer look at statement I had signed.
I accept that I have been offered a choice of currencies for payment. I acknowledge that I was offered a choice to pay in THB. I understand the chosen currency is final and that this service is not offered by Visa … No Refunds.

Obviously I was not offered any such option. Never have been. I doubt very much ever will be.

The total bill was 799 baht and I had been charged £13.82. An incredibly poor exchange rate of 57.80 baht to the pound!

I left the restaurant and went to an ATM. Using the same debit card I withdrew 800 baht, exactly 8 minutes later. Checking my account online today I find £11.52 was debited from my account at an exchange rate of 69.44 baht to the pound. That's massive £2.30 rip off

If you get a credit card slip converted to your home currency, say no thanks.

 

November 2006

  Memory Loss

Tuk ComCheck you memory after computer repairs

From Pattaya Secrets

My niece took her computer to a shop called Easy IT in Tukcom to be repaired, it was a 1 year old pentium 4 with 512kb of ram, it had a virus which was not fixed although they charged her 500 baht.

I cleaned the virus up but it ran real slow, I opened it up and guess what , somebody had removed the 512Kb of ram and put in a single 128k Dramm chip instead.

We went back with a friendly police man but the shop denied everything .
 

December 2006

  Update: Data Loss

Tuk ComA cautionary tale: Where is YOUR data?

Thanks to jj

I trotted off to the local computer shop to buy a  40Gb notebook-sized (2.5") hard-drive as a portable back up disc. I already had access to a 'case' for a 2.5" drive. So I retrieved that case and took it back to the shop where I purchased a SEAGATE 40Gb drive.

With the sales clerk, I walked from the sales area of the store over to the service area. While the tech was placing my new drive in the case, I was browsing the laptop brochures, i.e. not watching the tech. When I returned to the tech, he was plugging the USB cables into a laptop on the counter. He proceeded to show me that the new drive appeared on the MY COMPUTER screen as an additional drive and that the green light was on on the drive box.

I drove home and plugged the 2 cables into my PC. I opened the 40 Gb drive to find it FULL of data! Thousands of files & programs, hundreds of photos, all belonging to some Brit -- I'll call him Bert! Not being a voyeur, I didn't read his letters to Mom or open the directory labeled as 'bank acct'. I did a search for our local area code 038 and found his phone number.

Now the dilemma was what to do next. I was creating different scenarios. Could the shop have pulled a switch? I thought that the sales clerk had pulled the drive out of the display case and opened the foil-wrapper. It SHOULD have been a new drive. Did she pull a sleight of hand and slip me a "used" drive? Was it a stolen drive that some how wasn't wiped clean? How else could I get Bert's data?

I went to a pay phone and called Bert. He seemed an affable enough guy. He allowed as how his laptop was currently at THAT shop for repairs. At least it wasn't a stolen drive! We began to speculate on what might have occurred.

On closer examination the drive numbers didn't add up. My system was saying that 19Gb of data were occupying a 20Gb space partitioned into 2 segments. WHY wasn't it reading as 19 in 40? On the phone Bert said he had a 20Gb drive. I was only showing 20Gb on what should have been a 40! So, I popped open the case and it read SEAGATE 40Gb with a test date of JAN 06. Seemingly, the new one that she pulled out of the display case and unlikely to be Bert's actual drive.

I was at the shop soon after it opened the next day. I asked to see the owner/manager/'big boss'. I explained what I had versus what I thought I'd bought. I noted that they had sold be a technically "used" drive as new! She was unimpressed. I had them plug the drive into one of their computers to show them Bert's data. I asked them to re-format the drive. They simply walked away with that drive and returned with a new one which they installed in my case. I asked to be shown that it was indeed 'pristine'. It was.

I still question what happened to Bert's data. Did they deem to re-format the disk? Why had they used a disk out of the display case to mirror his drive during the repair process then fail to re-format it? Why would they then pass this drive off as new? Could the same happen to YOUR data if you went to that shop? Do you trust them with your computer and your business? Why were they so nonchalant about their error?
What did they do with Bert's data?

The shop in question is WATTANA on Pattaya Klang opposite Foodland. I, for one, will NEVER do business there again. I wouldn't trust them with MY data! In whose hands might YOUR data wind up?

 

22nd August 2006

  Good Gold for Bad

From Pattaya Secrets

Two Thai girls were shopping at Big C at the small shops on the upper level when a girl came over to them and asked if they had seen a grey handbag that she has left lying on a bench. I had 10 Baht of gold in it said the girl adding that her falang boyfriend had bought it for her only that day.

The two replied that they had not seen it and watched the girl seeming to be in a panic ask other customers the same. Then another girl came over and started searching so the girls went over to the bench to help her and looked a little. Lo and behold, there it was fallen behind the bench but quite easy to spot so they picked it up and handed it to the very grateful girl.

There inside the bag was the 10 Baht of gold in a jewelry box and they all admired it. Four items and all nice chains with a ring also.

Here comes the scam.

After thanking the three of them for about a minute she said she wanted to reward them and would go back to her room to get them 50,000 Baht. She promised to be back in 20 minutes and to show she trusted them they could keep the 10 Baht of gold until she returned with their money.

Here is the catch. She asked them to show a little trust also. She asked if she could keep a 1 baht bracelet and 1 Baht gold chain round the girls neck for a while while she dashed back for the money.

At this point the girls started to suspect a scam and as soon as the con artist realised she legged it, closely followed by the girl that had helped them search. Of course the gold was fake and the two were working the scam between them.

They could be playing at your local store soon so watch out for a not so great act.

 

22nd August 2006

  Bars Facing the Music

From Pattaya Secrets

Please be aware all bar and restaurant owners, a new scam is being perpetrated around town.

It involves bar music permits. A thai women claiming to be from a music liscensing authority has visited several bars recently in Soi6 and Soi Buakow areas, she is escorted by a Uniformed Thai policeman. She will claim that your music permits are not sufficient to play all types of music , produce paperwork that supposedly supports this claim .

She will then announce that you are fined 50,000 baht . The police officer will intimidate the Thai staff and say that this can be settled at the Soi 9 police station.
some people have paid up , others have gone to the Cop shop. At the police station negotiations take place in the reception area, where you will be threatened with arrest, however nobody has been arrested and most have negotiated a lower fine around 30,000 baht.

However the following day most victims phone the real music permit organisations who know nothing about this affair, after getting legal advice from lawyers it is now sure this is a scam. The Chonburi regional police and city hall have been notified. Officers on duty at the time of these incidents are being investigated and CCTV records are being looked at.

This is a new scam be aware, they come in the evening when all real copyright and permit offices are closed for verification, lawyers advise calling their bluff. At the police station insist on lawyer coming and asking for senior officer, not reception guys as they may be involved in the scam.

 

3rd August 2006

  Hands Off

Perhaps the toe rag tailors on Beach Road have at least one good point, they give us good practise at not automatically shaking hands when one is proffered

Thanks to Swanks

This has happened to a friend and has been tried on me.

A quite large Thai man approaches you (Near the Royal Garden Plaza, for me, The beach for my unlucky friend) He walks straight up to you and holds out his hand to shake hands. The victim is not sure if he knows the guy or he's just being very friendly so he takes his hand shake!

Big mistake, the guy keeps hold of the hand and tries to put his other one round the shoulders, then on the arm. He just keeps moving all the time. The victim is just not sure what is going on! The guy is a VERY GOOD PICKPOCKET ! I refused to shake his hand but my unfortunate mate lost big bahts when he met him the same day!

He tells me the police showed no interest!

 

4th July 2006

  The Suite Smell of Scam

From Pattaya Secrets

Every time I call hotels from previous visits to reserve a room they "always" without fail tell me that nothing is available "except" the suites. Even in off season. Suites are basically twice the price of a standard room.

When I get there the place is more than half empty. However after pointing this out at the desk the reception would prefer I leave than admit they were trying to milk me for more cash.

I accept the room for the one night and begin my search for something more suitable for the duration of my stay.

Unbelievable..................anyway.

Hotels that have tried this with me are:

  • Pattaya Center Hotel
  • Sandy Springs
  • White House
  • Dynasty
  • Sun Beam

 

6th May 2007

  The Thai Wife Scam

From Stickman

Steve Miller, a soft-spoken 39-year-old New Zealander and five-year resident of Pattaya, was shot and killed in broad daylight 10 days ago as he drove his motorbike on a quiet street in North Pattaya. What initially appeared to be just another random killing of a farang—so common in Pattaya—has, however, developed into a crime story that police might not have fully investigated if the victim's friends and family had not hounded the boys in brown. The real story began six months ago...

By the standards of most men, Jen—a 30-year-old gogo dancer—wasn't much to look at as she gyrated around the chrome pole. But like most things in Thailand, she was beautiful in the eyes of Steve Miller. Steve loved this country and was genuinely grateful to be living here. So the Kiwi bar-fined the dancer for the night and, eventually, bought her out entirely, moving her into his Pattaya apartment. He provided well for her and her family over the last six months, treated her like a princess, showered her with gifts, and remained faithful despite the temptations Pattaya offers all foreigners—even more so a handsome, mild-mannered young hunk with a constant smile.

Several months later, the expat was preparing to help purchase a house for his live-in girlfriend beginning by making a down-payment on the house. He had sold some property for two million baht and deposited 500,000 baht of that into Jen's bank account so that she could qualify for a home loan. When the loan was approved earlier this month, she agreed to return the 500,000 baht, but said she must first go to Udon Thani to vote in the national election. She returned to Pattaya for a brief stay, only to return to Udon almost immediately to visit her family for Songkran. She insisted on driving home in the couple's new car, leaving Steve no option but to tool around Pattaya on his motorbike. A week-ago Thursday, she left Udon en route to Pattaya with the understanding she would return Steve's money the following day. That same morning, as Steve drove his motorbike from Big C toward Third Road, a passenger on a second motorbike produced a pistol, took aim, and shot Steve dead.

Jen was notified of Steve's murder when she arrived in Pattaya. Being a dutiful if inconsiderate girlfriend, she immediately placed a call to Steve's parents in New Zealand, shouting into the phone, "Steve dead. Come to Pattaya." She repeated her terse statement, then hung up. The family was understandably mortified and bewildered. They learned more only when Steve's friends called to inform the family of details surrounding his death.

Those same friends were able to piece together the financial dealings between Steve and Jen, and dug up other information as well—learning that Jen had two Thai boyfriends even while she was living with Steve. Her roommate revealed that she never loved Steve but was hardcore and a skillful manipulator, even in past relationships. Friends immediately suspected the Isaan woman's role in the murder. They gathered what evidence they could and presented their case to the police. Jen was arrested, interrogated, and ultimately confessed to having hired a hit-man to kill Steve. Since then, the motorbike driver has been arrested, but the identified gunman has avoided capture.

At a televised news briefing—where police allowed no questions, Jen attempted to justify her crime, claiming that Steve beat her, forced her to participate in drug dealings, and stole property from her. Police encouraged her story yet produced no supporting evidence that the health-conscious body-builder was into drugs or dealing (his friends insist he was not, nor had he ever been known to strike anyone). Furthermore, the police denied any knowledge of the accused girl having 500,000 baht in a bank, or that Steve lent her the funds. However, friends presented financial records substantiating the transfer of the money from Steve's account to Jen's.

When family members arrived here from New Zealand, they were denied access to Steve's apartment. Police explained they needed to take inventory of his possessions first. The family was finally allowed into Steve's home this past Sunday, but found the place devoid of all valuables. According to the apartment manager, the previous day police had brought Jen to the apartment to collect her belongings; she took everything—including her savings passbook.

While the case now has been solved and two of the three suspects have been arrested, the question of justice remains unanswered. The glorious triumphs of police in arresting those involved in crimes generally are well promoted by police and the press; subsequently, little is reported on the fate of such criminals. Sources intimately involved in this case imply that the 500,000 baht might disappear into police coffers or may go to finance Jen's bail, following which she may be allowed to do a runner or the matter may be delayed until forgotten by most. The family has hired an attorney to help ensure justice and return of the 500,000 baht, and friends—at their peril—promise to hound the police until all questions are answered and the killers prosecuted. While they are aware of the inherent dangers to themselves in accusing the boys in brown of misdeeds, they also know the influence that can be purchased for 500,000 baht. More importantly, they know how little value was placed on the life of a young, serene man from New Zealand.

Update 13th August 2006: I think I am going to be violently sick...

From Stickman

The case against a confessed murderer of expat Steve Miller has been dismissed. Chintana Vichachai, girlfriend of the 39-year-old Kiwi, and Narathip Kachawong, driver of the motorbike during the shooting, appeared in the Pattaya Court last week where the court decided to dismiss the case against Chintana based on lack of evidence and witnesses. The case against the motorbike driver will proceed, beginning with a preparation hearing August 28. Both previously confessed to the crime, but the girlfriend subsequently recanted her confession. 

 

20th April 2007

  Motor Cycle Rentals

From an article in Pattaya City News & discussions on Thai Visa

A foreigner will rent a motorbike and will sign a contract. He or she will park the bike outside of their hotel overnight and the next day the bike is gone.

They contact the rental company who inform them that they must make a report of the theft at the Police Station. This is then followed by a demand for money to cover the cost of the bike from the rental company.

In the cases we have heard about, tourists have been forced to hand over between 40,000 and 50,000 Baht otherwise the company will pursue the case with the Police.

We are sure that most bike rental companies who operate here in Pattaya are honest and law-abiding and this relates to only a small number of dishonest bike renters. In each case that we have heard about, the bike does not possess any form of insurance and the contract contains a clause that the hirer is liable for all costs in case of damage or theft.

After the case has been cleared, the bike will be mysteriously returned to the rental company and the money paid by the foreign tourist is not returned. To avoid this happening to you, we would like to suggest the following:

  • Only rent from reputable companies.
  • Ensure that the motorbike is correctly insured to cover damages and theft.
  • Check the contract for small clauses which could leave you liable for all costs relating to damage and theft by third parties.
  • Try and avoid giving rental companies your Pattaya address.
  • Buy a strong padlock and chain. Lock the bike away securely

If you feel you have become a victim of such a scam, please contact the Tourist Police on 1155.

 

7th April 2007

  Beer Bar Hawkers and Pick Pockets

From Thai Visa

I was enjoying a beer in a beer bar on Beach Road. There were the usual interruptions every two minutes; watches, DVD's, stun guns, photo-service, roses, wooden craftwork, etc.

Two hawkers were potential thieves; one women with dozens, of red roses, did a rather crafty 'slight of hand trick' by thrusting the flowers into my chest and then attempting to steal my mobile telephone from my breast pocket. She nearly succeeded....so beware.

Secondly; a young child maybe 6 or 7 years of age offered to sell me chewing gum (1 packet) and with the other hand tried to pick-pocket my wallet from my FRONT pocket. Again nearly successful.

So, take care, if I had had more to drink I would have lost wallet and telephone.

 

29th March

  Keyboard Loggers at Internet Cafes

From Stickman

I have long mentioned concerns about using internet cafes in Bangkok as many of the computers in these spots are riddled with spyware, keystroke loggers and the like, allowing the person who installed such programs to get access to any accounts you access online – your email accounts, your website accounts and God forbid, your bank accounts!

Accusations have come in about the expensive internet shop in the Nana area, you know the one, opposite Nana Plaza, has software installed that records details which have resulted in transfers being made from their foreign bank accounts. At least two people claim to have only used this particular internet café and then had problems with their bank accounts in Farangland.

Using your own laptop to connect to connections in hotels or free / pay as you go wi-fi connections is better, but still not foolproof. If you are really concerned, or paranoid, the safest way is to use your own laptop to connect to the internet directly, using a dial up connection in your hotel room. You can buy internet packages locally in many computer shops, and internet access is cheap at around 10 baht an hour. Setting up an account is very quick and easy.

 

3rd February 2007

  A McShortChange and Fries Please

From Stu

I thought you might include this scam on your website. The first time this happened I thought it was a "one off" , but the same scam was attempted on me yesterday for the second time.

I visited McDonalds in the Royal Garden Plaza on Beach Road. I received my food and offered a 1000 Bt note as I wanted some change. The serving girl handed me 80 Bt as change and just stood there. When I didn't walk away without the remaining 800Bt, after some seconds, she handed over the cash. I asked why she had only given some of the change and she clamed she was "sort cash". So why give me some change and not all?

She, as on the first time this happened, had written the name on her badge in Thai. I asked for her name (very politely) and was given the full formal name of my little thief in very strong "Issan" which I could not understand even though I can understand a lot of Thai.

I expect such scams now as a matter of course, but not in a big company like McDonalds, and it would seem, not a "one off" but involving other staff. I had a word with the manager who seemed to think it was not possible to get cash out of the till without being seen so staff would not benefit from the theft. It doesn't take a mastermind to work out that a quick call to a friend and the issuing of extra change with a small order by that friend, would get the money out of the till and into my little thief's hands!

Still...She had a lovely smile.

 

29th December 2006

  Lost in the Post Before it Leaves the Post Office

This article triggered a few correlations to my own experiences. I suffered losses from a similar deferred stamping technique at the postal desk upstairs in the South Pattaya's Tesco Lotus. I have also had some pretty hard glares when objecting to this policy at Jomtien Post Office in Soi 5. I have always had immediate stamps applied in Pattaya's Post Office (in the aptly named Beach Road: Soi Post Office).

Wherever you go insist on immediate stamps.

From Stickman

When I worked near Bangkok a few years ago, all my outgoing mail reached its destination. I've been back in Thailand for 18 months now and my experiences have been very disappointingly different. As the likelihood of mail reaching its overseas destination depends on the post office you use, I can only assume that pilfering is tolerated in some post offices but not in others.

Recently I sent three letters, all containing important material, to addresses in the UK from the post office in the domestic terminal at Bangkok airport. The bloke there just weighed the letters and wrote the amount on each one and, of course, took my money: no sign of any stamps. No doubt he waited until I was out of sight before confining my letters to the waste paper basket, probably tearing them open first, to see if they contained cash. Please warn your readers about this practice and about the post office in question. Domestic terminal, departures, at Bangkok Airport.

 

15th November 2006

  Beauty Sleep

Thai police are warning tourists of a new scam.

Members of a Thai ladyboy gang have confessed to hiding strong sedatives in their mouths and spitting them down the throats of victims during deep kissing. Then they rob the drugged tourists.

The confession came from three attractive ladyboys arrested in Bangkok last week. Police say they'd robbed a Bangladeshi businessman of more than $7,300 in cash and valuables.

Police say the victim told investigators he met the transvestites in a bar and invited them all back to his apartment.

After kissing one, he said he felt dizzy and passed out. When he woke up, his cash, watch, mobile phone and notebook computer were gone.

A police lieutenant colonel has this warning for tourists: Don't rush to kiss a stranger on the mouth or you will end up in a deep sleep.

 

9th November 2006

  Hand Wash Towels Given Freely are not Always Free

I have never been charged in a bar but restaurants are another matter.

After a rather overcooked crab meal at the Vientiane Restaurant in Walking Street, I was further disappointed by their operation of the scam of unannounced 10/20 Baht charges on the cold hand wash towels.

The waitress was very put out as she had already opened the bag when I enquired of their policy and declined the towel.

It seems a very unfair policy on the service staff who have to do the scamming and it is they that lose their tips when customers get annoyed at this petty cheat.

Yet again I seem to be turning into Mr Angry. Am I the only only one or are there others who object to being conned for 80 baht after a 2500 baht meal.

I have noticed that some Walking Street restaurants who used to do this have now ceased citing that it proved an unpopular policy.

 

July 2005

  Tooth Whitening Turns Victim Red

From Derek Fichtner

Do not get teeth whitening done in Thailand for a "dentist" associated with the Beauty House in Pattaya, Thailand.

I paid $250 US to get it done there and it hurt like heck! No kidding, tears of pain were running down the sides of my face. And then when he was finished, it hadn't improved my teeth at all!

I complained and wouldn't pay. I was so pissed off, I marched across the street to another dentist and asked them if they thought my teeth had been whitened. They called the police, and basically, I had to pay or go to jail! Glad I at least embarrassed the bad dentist, as he followed me, at my invitation, across the street to the other dental clinic.

The place is a joke!

I spoke to another dentist in the area about this, and described the laser. He said that they were probably using a laser meant for skin blemishes -- not teeth.
Beware... go to a dental hospital if you go there. Beware of The Beauty House in Pattaya... for dental work, anyway!

Beauty House is located on 2nd Road just north of Pattaya Klang

 

June 2005

  Patpong Upstairs Bar Scams

From Stickman (Essential reading)

I created a bit of a fuss in Sideline Bar this week. Sideline Bar is one of those upstairs bars in Patpong soi 2, one of the ones upstairs, where a variety of shows are hosted. There are a heap of guys hanging around, a door that is locked from the outside and perhaps the biggest sign of all, no chits for drinks on the tables. When I went in I asked the prices for drinks and was told 100 baht. I asked if there was a cover charge for the show and was told no. When the drink came, no chit came with it so I asked to pay for it there and then. This caused a bit of a stir but it was eventually laughed off by one of the guys who said in Thai, "you know too much". It was all light-hearted. They realised that I knew the score (variable pricing and outrageous charges for shows) and I hate to imagine what some of the other punters were charged. But, a big smile and some light hearted banter in Thai ensured that nothing ever came of it. The point being that if you do venture in to any of the upstairs bars in Patpong, look for the tell tale signs, and no bill with your drink is a classic.

 

March 2005

  Kenda Rubber Scam

This is a scam that has devastated some of my Thai relations in Isaan. It is irrelevant to Westerners but it is useful to know about so as to help neighbours, friends and relatives avoid being scammed.

The scam is based upon the fact that one way for Thais to get reasonably good wages is for them to work abroad and in this case Taiwan. Workers are offered good wages for a contracted term usually with extensions available. The downside is that there is an up front cost to en employment agency to organise recruiting and immigration paperwork. This is often quite substantial say 100,000 or 200,000 Baht. Many honest firms have set up such operations and many a Thai has been able to build a house on return from a lucrative contract.

However a few companies have been less than honest in actually paying the agreed rate. And in the extreme cases, the salary barely covers the up front charge. 

Several of my Thai relatives got suckered in by Kenda Rubber. They were charged 200,000 up front and were promised a monthly salary of 15,000. The contract was for 2 years and an extension of a year was promised. Even at the promised figures overtime and the year's extension would be relied upon to make a reasonable income.

The reality was somewhat different. The first major wakeup call was an undisclosed accommodation charge of 2500 per month. Then the major bombshell was the salary actually paid

Month 1 2000 (though only 2 weeks worked)
Month 2 6000
Month 3 7000
Month 4 8000
Month 5 9000

No further figures are available as the workers resigned themselves to a thumping loss and returned home angry, irate and screwed..

 

July 2004

Beware of the Thai Gem Scam

2bangkok logoHow it is done:

This is really a by-the-numbers scam. Most people have the exact same experience. It usually goes something like this:
    1.    You are riding in a tuk-tuk
    2.    The driver tells you that wherever you are going is closed for some reason.
    3.    The driver tells you he is specially trained to be helpful to tourists.
    4.    You are told the government has launched a promotion to sell gems to tourists.
    5.    In the course of riding around with the "friendly" tuk-tuk driver, you "accidentally" meet a well-dressed young man or an older, distinguished man.
    6.    The younger man claims he is a student. The older will claim he works for the government and shows you his government ID. (Thai IDs mean nothing. They are readily available for a small fee to anyone.)
    7.    The person you meet independently confirms the story the tuk-tuk driver told. (This is a nice touch.)
    8.    Eventually you ask to be taken to the "government" jewelry house and are told that you can make 100-150% profit by reselling the gems back home. It seems okay since the seller writes something like "if everything is not ok we will offer a full refund" and puts an official looking stamp on it.
    9.    You've now been cheated by one of the oldest and most openly practiced scams in Thailand.

The Scam

One of the most pervasive scams in Thailand is the Thai gem scam. Typically, a tourist meets a friendly Thai at a tourist attraction who eventually offers to take them to a "government" gem stone shop where the tourist is told about how they can sell Thai "blue sapphires" or other gems back home and make a 100% profit. It is all lies, of course, and the tourist ends up with a pocket full of overpriced gems. Like Thais themselves, the scam is low-key and the touts are friendly rather than pushy. A rule of thumb for Thais is that "real" Thais do not just walk up to strangers and strike up a friendly conversation. Thais typically "speak when spoken to." If you are approached at a tourist attraction by a friendly fellow who just walks up and starts speaking to you, watch out! Too many otherwise wonderful vacations have been ruined by this scam, so watch out.
2Bangkok has followed this scam online for nearly 5 five years and make no mistake--the authorities are doing nothing to stop it. No official ever dares mention the "protected" gold shops that actually run the scams. One of the tuk tuk drivers who takes victims to be scammed operates in front of the Tourist Information Centre and the local Police Station on Khao Sarn Road. The funny thing is that over the years the reports are from the same locations --only the names of the stores change. Officials claim that just changing the name of the shop prevents them from doing anything to stop the scam.

A shop owner bragged to some cheated tourists: "I'll reopen again, just like I have for 20 years!"

Who runs/is complicit in the gem scam?:

Gold shops

We do not have a person's name, but Bang (or Hang) Thong Thong Bai/Ranghang Thong Thong Bai gold shop is one of linchpins of the gem scam. 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 this shop ever mentioned in any "official" discussions of the scam? With perseverance, scammed tourists can demand police file reports on the gem shops and eventually the gem shops will have to change their names, but police outright refuse to mention this gold shop in reports.

Banks in Banglamphu

Branches of banks that operate in the Banglamphu area (where most of the scam shops are located) also cooperate in the scam--particularly Thai Farmers Bank and Thai Military Bank. Thai Military Bank has been know to give credit card machines to the scam stores so they can allow scam customers to pay by Mastercard, however the charge made is a cash advance directly from Thai Military Bank (Banglaphu branch). Tourists who think their purchases are protected because they paid by credit card are surprised to find the transaction booked as a cash advance directly from Thai Military Bank.

Local Visa and Mastercard

Neither Visa nor the local Mastercard company seem concerned that known gem scam shops have credit card machines that say "Thai Military Bank" and are using them directly on their premises.

For further details: www.2bangkok.com



Thai Life  Background: Thai National Anthem An illuminating translation (Aug 2007)
 Background: The Wai To wai or not to wai...that is the question (March 2007)
 Background: Gestures Just a Matter of Interpretation (Feb 2006)
 Background: Rent Not Buy Mixed Blessings of being hitched with a Thai (Feb 2006)
 Background: Red Tape Hard lessons in expat paradise (Dec 2006)
 Background: Thai Whiskey How tax keeps Thailand tipsy (Feb 2006)
 Background: Living Up Country Stickman doesn't recommend the 'Real Thailand' life (14th Dec 2005)
 Background: The Morning After Ever woken up with LT girl only to wish you had gone ST (Nov 2005)
 Background: When Last Orders may Really be Your Last Be wary of late night violence (Aug 2005)
 Background: Use of the Word Farang ie Westerner (July 2005)
 Background: The Bangkok Hilton Life on death row (June 2005)
 Background: Opting out of the Thai Family Pension Scheme (May 2005)
 Background: Foreigner in your own House Farangs have names you know! (March 2005)
 Background: Mia Farangs Thai wives and the Thai economy (June 2004)
 Background: Why Wai? when it is better not to (Jan 2003)
 Background: Grovelling A Primer (Jan 2010)
 Background: Losing Face Stickman explains (Jan 2003)
 Background: Foreigner Prices Dual pricing (Sep 2003)
 Banking: Would you Credit it? Rules for farangs to get Thai credit cards (July 2008)
 Banking: Mortgages More on Bangkok Bank mortgages to foreigners (Aug 2005)
 Banking: Farang Friendly Banks Which banks will open a foreigner an account (July 2005)
 Books: Book Reviews About the Thai Life
 Business: Thai Time Businesses to record internet transactions using Thai Standard Time (Aug 2008)
 Buying a Bar: Renovate Your Ideas Successful Bar Ownership (March 2007) 
 Buying a Bar: Business GoGo Going Gone Why do people want get into the GoGo business (Feb 2005)
 Buying a Bar: A Bar in a Million Will people come to yours? (Nov 2005)
 Buying Property: Discouraging Property Purchase Via Company Sleeping partners to be checked for tax (May 2006)
 Buying Property: Home Affairs Buying property in Thailand (June 2004)
 Climate: Climate Change Act now to stop Bangkok sinking, urge scientists (Feb 2010)
 Crime: With so many Britons murdered in Thailand Why does our Government not warn of the dangers? (Jan 2008)
 Crime: Guns in Thailand Thailand near the top of the league in gun murder (Dec 2006)
 Driving: Don't Text and Drive Mobile phone use whilst driving now illegal (May 2008)
 Driving: Tea Junction Identifying hot spots for illegal traffic police 'tolls' (Feb 2006)
 Environment: Tap Water is Clearly Green Whereas bottled water is clearly not green (July 2007) 
 Health Box Aware Deadly box jellyfish new to Thailand (Oct 2008)
 Health: Jellyfish First Aid for jellyfish stings (June 2009)
 Health: Cancerous Joss Sticks Beware of health hazard in Thai temples (Aug 2008) 
 Health: Don't Let your Typhoid Jabs Lapse Food hygiene is not good in Thailand ( Nov 2005)
 Health: Rabies First aid after an animal bite (May 2005)
 Law: Work Permit Law Official Memo (Jan 2007)
 Law: Sex Toys Illegal to sell in Thailand but tolerated by Customs (July 2005)
 Law: Young Adults Should Avoid Thai Holidays Drinking age is 20 ( July 2005)
 Law: Farang Volunteer Tourist Police Their role in kill joy operations (June 2005)
 Law: Divorce Thai Style essential reading by Stickman (June 2004)
 Law: Age Related sex & marriage (Sept 2003)
 Marriage: Murderous Wives Bar girl and the expat: a killing foretold (Aug 2008)
 Marriage: Farangs seek the warmth of large Thai Families: Bollox conclusion from survey (April 2008) 
 Marriage: Married to Isaan How Issan ladies meet their husband (Dec 2006)
 Marriage: Pizza vs Somtam How Thai life adapts to accommodate farang husbands (Nov 2006)
 Marriage: A Good Little Earner Farang/Thai marriages a hot in Isaan (Aug 2006)
 Marriage: The Ultimate Mother In-Law Joke Paying the bride price (March 2003)
 Money: New 2 Baht Coin A bit easier to spot (March 2009)
 Motoring: Drink Drive Limits in Thailand (April 2006)
 Police Foreign Tourist Police Assistants Who are the black shirts on Walking Street? (Jan 2009)
 Politics: What's Up Down South Summary of the unrest in South Thailand (2Oct 2005)
 Politics: Who Runs Thai TV? Ex Prime Minister Thaksin, the army and Thai Rak Thai (Nov 2005)
 Tax: Tax Allowances to Raise (6th Aug)
 Travel: Airlines on Thai Time Compensation now due for severely delayed or cancelled flights  (Jan 2008)
 Travel: Hotline for Work Permit, Visa Queries Thai Immigration service (June 2006)
 Travel: Passports Last 6 Months Longer Change of immigration rules (May 2006)
 Travel: One Way Tickets and travelling to Thailand without a visa (April 2006)
 Travel: Tourist Police Overstay their Welcome Overstayers 5 day ordeal (Feb 2006)
 Travel: Surviving Homeland Customs Tips to minimise hassle on your return home (21st Dec 2005)
 Travel: Mug Shots for the Surveillance State New specification for UK passport photos (Aug 2005)
 Travel: Border Hassle Beggars Belief Beware of thieving Cambodian children (Aug 2005)
 Travel: UK Immigration are Coughing Blood Long stay UK visitors need pre-travel TB test (July 2005)
 Travel: Beware of Barcodes in suitcases and parcels to the UK (Nov 2005)
 Travel: A Customary Warning An unpleasant welcome to Thailand (Oct 2006)
 Travel Oh My Buddha! Export of Buddha Images from Thailand (Aug 2009)
 TV: Truely Bollox Work permit required to subscribe to True telephone, TV or internet (Nov 2007)
 Working: Working it Out Work Permit changes being implemented (Aug 2008)
 Working: Extending Non-Immigrant-B Visas More hoops to work in Thailand (May  2007) 
 Working: Prohibited Occupations for Farangs (Oct 2006)

Scams  Scams Thai-Anxiety on scams
 Thailand Jet Ski Scams on Facebook
 Bangkok Scams at BangkokScams.com
 The Gem Scam at 2Bangkok.com

Speak Thai  A Thai Primer an introduction to speaking Thai (10th August 2007)
 Months in Thai (15th May 2007)
 Not Enough Hours in the Day to Learn Thai (July 2006)
 Learn Online Suggested websites (March 2006)
 Sex & Slanging A few useful words and phrases (Jan 2006)
 Learn to Speak Thai in 1 Easy Lesson...and then ten years of summer school (Oct 2005)
 Use of the Word Farang ie Westerner (July 2005)

Pattaya Information  Diary Public holidays and special days in Pattaya
 Pattaya Hotels Reader reviews
 Pattaya Phone Book Emergency Numbers & Hospitals (Dec 2005)
 Pattaya Transport Bus, Train, Plane
 pattayaphotoguide.com Google Street View of Pattaya
 On Google Earth jj's Pattaya place markers (Sep 2006)
 Pattaya Movies and Times Select Pattaya for cinemas at Big C & Royal Garden Plaza
 Pattaya Sophon Cable TV Listings

Pattaya Articles  Good guys go to heaven, bad journalists go to Pattaya (Dec 2007)
 An Irish View Seedy Sex Resort Home to Hundreds of Irish (Dec 2006)
 The People's Paradise Tabloid town with broadsheet aspiration (August 2005)

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