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Phuket Foreigners Losing Homes To Con Men

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Special report: Phuket foreigners losing homes to con men


The lament is shared by a number of other wives in Phuket, most of them having foreign husbands.

PHUKET: -- Phuket homeowners are a prime target for regional fraud gangs that leave their "marks" heartbroken and penniless, with wives of wealthy foreigners often falling victim.

Reports of people being cheated out of tens of millions of baht in such scams are rife on the island, but the victims are often too ashamed to come forward to warn others.

Under condition of anonymity, one victim has come forward to tell the tale of how in just a single day in June she was duped out of the 12 million baht house she owned with her foreign husband in Chalong. The woman hopes her story will serve as a cautionary tale to others who might likewise be taken advantage of.

The story began when she was contacted by a man who claimed he wanted to rent a vacant home belonging to her sister, who was living abroad with her foreign husband.

"He got my number from a sign advertising that my sister's home was for rent, even though a foreign tenant was staying there at the time. He also told me his boss was interested in renting a luxury home with a nice view and swimming pool," she said.

“My home met his boss's requirements exactly, so I suggested I might be interested in renting it – for the right price. In retrospect I wonder if any of my friends informed him that I had a big house."

“Even though I offered to rent my house at [at the very high rate of] 150,000 baht per month, he was still interested. The next day he came to inspect the home where my family and I had been living since 2005."

“Then he drove me to a hotel in Kata to meet his boss, a wealthy Chinese man. He was with another man, his manager, in the room. The wealthy man said he was interested in renting my house and would pay me for the whole year in advance."

“Later they had an argument, with the Chinese man blaming the manager for his loss of 3 million baht while gambling. He said he wanted a chance to win his money back and had 10 million baht ready to wager. He opened his bag to display large sums of cash before leaving the room."

“After the wealthy Chinese man left, the manager said his boss was always losing large sums by gambling and that he was easily cheated, yet he insisted on continuing to play."

“Later, the manager brought a man he said was a 'gambling expert' into the room. During our conversation, they gave me a glass of water. As I had never gambled before, they taught me some basic ways of cheating. At the time I thought 'this is so easy a child could do it…how could that man have lost 3 million baht at something so easy?'"

“The wealthy Chinese man came back in the room with his bag, saying his wife was at the beauty salon but would arrive soon to discuss the rental of my home."

“In the room were the driver who brought me to the hotel, the manager, the gambling expert, the wealthy man and myself. A discussion ensued during which all four of us tried to convince the wealthy man to stop gambling, as he would just be cheated and lose his money again. But the wealthy man said it was his money and what he did with it was none of our business. Whether he won or lost was a matter of chance,” she said.

After a verbal argument over the matter, the wealthy man said that if the four could raise 10 million baht he would play with them instead of going to a gambling den, she added.

"After the wealthy man went outside again, the manager suggested that the four of us come up with 10 million baht, cheat the man out of all his money, and divide up the winnings.

Since he continued to ignore our advice and swore at us, it would be better than having the man lose all of his money at some gambling den. We could then donate all the winnings to a temple," she continued.

“I seemed like everything was a blur as I withdrew my hand after shaking hands with them to seal the deal."

“The gambling expert said he had 4.5 million baht in the bank. The manager had more than five million baht, but the driver had only ten thousand. Then they asked me how much I had. I said I didn't have any savings and wouldn't dare to try to borrow money from anyone. They asked whether I had gold. I did, so I sold it for them. Then I withdrew all the money in my bank account for them."

“After we got the ten million, we gambled with the wealthy man, but because of my play we lost it all. They acted as if they were extremely stressed, especially the gambling expert who kept saying he would get in trouble with his wife,” she said.

It took the group less than an hour to convince her to sign ownership of her house over to a loan company in order to raise money to pay back the money she had "lost" them, she said.

“I can only blame myself for destroying everything my family had. I can only hope and pray the police catch the gang members as fast as possible. Meanwhile I have to find 12 million baht, plus 360,000 baht a month in interest to the loan company, in order to get my house back. I don't know what to do as I don't have any money. All I can do is hope the gang is arrested and some of the money is returned to me," she said with tears in her eyes.

As she spoke to the Gazette she was still negotiating for time with the loan company so that she could find a new place for her and her family to live before the house would be seized.

“We lived happily as a family until they got hold of our house and left us with nothing but huge debts. It is so cruel," she said.

“For a month afterward, the manager and the driver kept calling me – morning, noon and night – to assure me that the manager would pay me back after completing a condominium deal in Australia. They tried to console me and I kept my faith in them," she said.

“A month later, in July, I realized that I had been deceived when the police called me and told me that a gang had defrauded me. I found out later that the gang kept contact with their victims for 45 days after cheating them,” she said.

The police notification was not the result of good detective work, however.

“The police told me that one of the gang had contacted them and been asked to inform me that I had been duped. The police suspect that the three gang members had in turn been tricked by the 'wealthy man', who kept all the money for himself and disappeared."

“After I realized what had happened I went into a mental collapse and cried for days and nights. My husband was also in shock," she said.

“They did it together many times in Phuket. People lost 8 million baht in Rawai. Two victims in Kathu lost 15 million baht and 4 million baht, respectively. There are many more cases in which the amount was under one million. Many arreste warrants have been issued, but the polices still cannot catch them.”

“I heard that people who got tricked by the same gang also drank water given to them."

“When they finish defrauding people they always disappear, but there are still many other gangs. Each group comprises four people. They always work the same way, contacting people who have put up signs advertising homes for sale or rent."

"Some people say that the victims like me are stupid, but they have not lived through my experience so they don’t know. I may be kind-hearted and gullible, but I believe I was drugged as well," she said.

Provincial Police Region 8 investigating officer Lt Col Mechai Nokkaew said arrest warrants have been issued for three of four in the gang:

"The driver": Prasert Rattanaruengmorn, 41, from Trang

"The manager": Thira Thavorn, 50, from Phuket

"The gambling expert": Preeda 'Ti Surat' Lorsuchart, 49, from Nakhon Sri Thammarat

As for the "the wealthy man", police only know that his nickname is "Koh Kia" and that he is from Songkhla Province. As his real name is unknown, no warrant has yet been issued for his arrest.

Lt Col Mechai confirmed that he is not the same person as another serial conman from Songkhla who was recently arrested in Haad Yai while impersonating a Department of Special Investigations (DSI) officer. That man, who also carried documents identifying himself as a Phuket police officer, was released on bail and remains at large. He has been identified as 57-year-old Witchayut Pansampao.


– The Phuket Gazette contacted the victim in Rawai who lost 15 million baht to another gang, but she was not ready to provide any information to the media yet.

– These are not isolated incidents. A similar incident occurred in Krabi Town last year when a Thai woman gambled away over 1 million baht and a gang physically threatened her foreign husband. He nearly lost his house too, but he found another way to secure the funds and paid off her debt. The two separated shortly thereafter.

– The woman in the story above remains with her foreign husband, though the ordeal has put great strain on their relationship.

– The original version of this story that appeared on the front page of the October 1 edition of the Phuket Gazette stated that the woman put no money into the original stake used in the card game with the "wealthy man". As stated above, she in fact sold her gold and withdrew money from her bank account to help complete the stake.

– The Phuket Gazette invites readers to share any information that might help lead to the arrest of the gang members listed above, or prevent other people from falling victim to this or similar scams. Send information to: editor [at] phuketgazette.net.

Source: http://www.phuketgazette.net/archives/articles/2011/article11166.html


-- Phuket Gazette 2011-10-08

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Yes exactly - definite case of "som nam na" - she was willing to defraud what she believed was a man with a serious gambling problem who was regularly cheated out of his money; and was defrauded herself.

I have ZERO sympathy for her - however I do for the rest of her family who have also lost everything.

And to later claim that she was "drugged" - hahah yes - it seems she was high on that good old drug called "GREED".

What goes around comes around and that is karma right there.

Usual scams involve playing on emotions of greed - but this case also involved the "Victim" being willing to scam someone herself.

Sorry - I can't stop chuckling.

The headline shouldn't be "Phuket foreigners losing homes to conmen" - it should be "Tables get turned on foolish amatuer"

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what a plum. i can't really feel sorry for her,she was quite willing to fleece the gambler of all his money,so i think a bit of som nam naa is in order.

I feel sorry for her farang husband abroad as I bet you 10 million baht that it was his money that paid for the house.

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I find it difficult to feel sorry for the girl after reading the entire "story"


I'm sorry but you get 'fleeced' like this then you are a f******* muppet and might as well have just given your house and savings away as bother to allow yourself to be put through the trauma of jumping quantum leap style from being a potential house renter to professional gambling syndicate member!!! Cheap Hollywood wannabe film crap, right?.. the ones we don't watch cos the characters and plots are too laughable!!!:wai:


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“'A month later, in July, I realized that I had been deceived when the police called me and told me that a gang had defrauded me.'"

It took her a whole month to figure out she had been conned!

I have heard of several gambling scams but they are usually of the standard type where the con team allows the mark to win for a while before turning the tables on them and then turning nasty and issuing threats until they get money from an ATM or something. The interesting feature of this one is that it borrows from the Nigerian letter scam in persuading the mark to enter into a conspiracy to cheat some one else.

Anyway, it is very sad and I feel sorry for the victim. However, I think that a person of normal intelligence would have seen several red light bulbs go on early on in this scam. The set up doesn't sound like a normal set-up where a foreign businessman would want to rent an expensive villa in Phuket and clearly this "wealthy man" was a Thai Chinese. There are in fact hardly any companies employing expats in Phuket on large packages that allow them to pay Bt150,000 a month in rent. Most of the senior expats are hotel GMs who have accommodation provided on site. It didn't sound like a large company office with receptionist and secretaries and a name plate on the wall. No expat pays a whole year's rental upfront or has his male "manager" comb Phuket for villas to rent at over the market price. There is so much supply of that type of accommodation that is already vacant and going for a song. You just walk into any real estate agent and have a wide choice. Thai Chinese simply don't rent other people's villas in Phuket. These factors should have jointly or severally made her very suspicious but the talk of the gambling, showing off cash and finally talking about cheating the "wealthy man" should have made her blurt out some excuse and rush for the exit very fast. If she was still really interested in the deal, she could have made an appointment for the couple to come and see the house and told them she would have her lawyer draft a lease.

There is no mention of the foreign hubby who presumably sunk his savings into the Bt12 million house. The moral of the story is to do whatever you can in the way of 30 year lease or usufruct agreement to make it much harder for the wife to gamble away your house or sell it from under you in whatever way.

Edited by Arkady
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I read through this "story" and find it runs very similar to the scam emails one gets. Even to the extent of the bad English used in the "story".

I just find that the whole story sucks and is at all not true. You have the 'rich Chinese man" the Manager, the driver, and the gambling expert.. Purely fiction from a D class novel!

What dam_n rubbish!

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There's only one thing to say: You cannot con an honest person.

Oh yes you can. My ex-wife, a Thai Civil engineer with a masters degree living here in Chiang Mai, managed that very carefully and it took her 5 years of undying love to fleece me. I was always open and honest with her (and everyone else) and she was/is deceitful and cunning. So watch out for this woman in Chiang Mai as she finds her next foreigner... to pull the same trick

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I feel sorry for her farang husband abroad as I bet you 10 million baht that it was his money that paid for the house.

Who else would have paid for it?

Will anyone really gamble with her hard earned 12 million baht?

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Lot of clever farangs out there; are you sure your teeraks can prevent this happening to you? At the end of the day, how much trust can be put in teeraks hands when it comes to your assets (on the simple basis teerak doesn't have your level of education or wealth of experience?). I think the answer is no matter how much you love teerak, you can never fully trust them with your assets?

How does the old say go: never spend more than you can afford to loose?

Edited by MaiChai
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There's only one thing to say: You cannot con an honest person.

Oh yes you can. My ex-wife, a Thai Civil engineer with a masters degree living here in Chiang Mai, managed that very carefully and it took her 5 years of undying love to fleece me. I was always open and honest with her (and everyone else) and she was/is deceitful and cunning. So watch out for this woman in Chiang Mai as she finds her next foreigner... to pull the same trick

I'll bet you that she's already found him, just like mine.

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lol i had 2 friends who it happened to. 1 in thai and 1 in malaysia.

None of them lost a dime, they were given free cola's and food.. they hadn't failed elementary school though and weren't the kind of people who'd cheat someone.

Glad it happened, karma is good.

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... usually I don't mind to see that dumbasses, who come to thailand to get all they want when they want because they got cash to show and believe they're kings, are duped out of their money... but if they're drugged... then that's no-game. not fair. That's cheating.

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