You have arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The sun warms your bones, the girls are pretty, the beer is cool, and mountains of snow are a fast melting nightmare. You can retire in bliss.
You have a nice-nest egg saved for these ‘special years’. Your financial advisers in your homeland were regulated, were scrutinized by their professional bodies, and most were well educated upstanding citizens and if they failed you there was always the ‘law of the land’ that you could turn to. You could shake hands with your financial advisor (FA) and trust in his/her integrity. You cannot do that here, well you can, but the price you will pay will be a heavy one.
These are fertile grounds for fellow expats ‘dogs in sheep’s clothing’ to fleece you of your money, smash your nest egg, purloin your pension. There is not a thing you can do about it. Expat forums which muzzle our voice claim ‘defamation/libel/slander’ cite Thai draconian laws yet allow threads damning Thailand and her people, to stand. Our voices cannot be heard. Lawyers are most helpful up until they get their retainer fee, then they no longer wai, no longer return phone calls and write impotent letters, at great cost. There is nowhere to turn, yet justice always prevails, doesn’t it? It should.
Yes, there are rules, but they are not strictly enforced. Companies can operate without proper registration with the Thai authorities, and this is often, if not always, overlooked. They are illegal and yet they exist and continue to suck money out of unsuspecting newcomers, that would be you sir or madam reading this column. I must say at this point that we presently have an FA who is top notch class so the following does not apply to all. Our prior relationships, and I speak for many, are run by the scum of humanity; they have three piece suits (or Louis Vuitton skirts), they travel across borders to buy fresh meat, they hide well. They are the ones who shake your hand and grin at you with sharpened teeth. Caveat emptor.
This article has been written out of frustration and anger by and for a group of us who were duped. We tried to speak yet we were silenced by those who represent us in this community. Some of us fear for our lives and livelihoods, yes, it does get this serious. Past vocal expats were falsely advised that they were liable for a 2 year prison sentence, and could be deported. They left quickly.
This is a warning to you newcomers, you with stars in your eyes, keep your eyes and ears open and I refer you all to this brilliant article written by Andrew Drummond. And on a positive note, this scam extends past the borders of Thailand, and justice will be served, a strong group has begun to form….our call to arms, “we can and we will because we are brave enough to start”. Watch your wallet!