A Retring Attiude

 |  November 29, 2010

Looks like somebody else wants to be my wife. Wait; let me put that another way. Looks like someone tried to steal my wife’s identity. We had heard about identity theft in Thailand but never thought that we would be hit. My wife has an expat sounding last name and a Thai sounding first name, obviously a Thai married to a foreigner. We wonder if that may have made her a target.

Here’s what happened. Early one morning we got a phone call from Police Captain Chan saying that he wanted to warn us that someone last night had suspiciously charged 60,000 baht on our credit card. We confirmed that it wasn’t us and asked what we should do about it. Captain Chan said that they were in the middle of an investigation and needed to ask some questions about our bank account. First, how much money do we have in our account? Opps, Red Flag.

My wife said that she doesn’t give that kind of information over the phone, and by the way, how were we to know that he was really calling from the police, and that maybe she should contact her bank personally. Captain Chan, some anger in his voice and speaking rather rudely, told us that accusing and insulting a police officer was a punishable offence. And secondly, if she were to inform anyone of this conversation, including our bank, she would be obstructing a police investigation and would be subject to two years in jail and a 100,000 baht fine. And in fact, since she brought in money from abroad, she was currently a suspect in a money laundering scheme. So she better cooperate.

My wife, afraid, but knowing that something was fishy, since our ‘police captain’ seemed to be speaking Thai with a strange accent, said ‘Go ahead. My lawyer will speak to you about this.’ In five minutes you will receive another call, Captain Chan said, and hung up.

Five minutes later ‘Police Major’ Sukjai called asking us to cooperate with his investigation. (In typical con-game fashion if the first guy doesn’t pull you in, he passes you up the line to someone in more authority). My wife said she needed to talk to her banker first. The good major abruptly ended the phone call.

Our banker told us that there was nothing strange going on with our account but wasn’t surprised about our phone conversation. They had heard it all before. Our police officer friends have never called back.

Usual cons work on two basic emotions, greed or fear. This one used fear. Please spread the word that there are bad guys out there.

Hugh’s tip for the month: You’ve heard it before – Never give out any personal information over the phone to someone who calls you (or in emails either).
For further information about retiring to Thailand check out Hugh’s site www.retire2thailand.com.