CityNews – 17th September 2019, a press conference was held at the Chiang Mai International Airport following the shocking news of a sophisticated airport scam that cost one person 45,000 baht yesterday.
According to airport authorities, this is a known scam which has happened many times before in Bangkok, yesterday’s incident was the first to hit Chiang Mai.
How the scam works is that a local person, perhaps a travel agent or a business owner or manager, will be contacted by a foreigner, who will begin a long conversation, presumably from abroad, about an impending trip to Thailand. They may first connect over straight or gay dating apps or from a person seeking to do business, but over a period of time they will have established a relationship with this local. On the day of their arrival, in this case Chiang Mai, they will then send a distress message or email to their local contact saying that they had been held by immigration and had their passport confiscated. According to many screenshots of the messages CityNews was shown, were photos of tired and exhausted foreign businessmen looking distressed, pictures of hands holding first class boarding passes from EVA Air with the correct date and flight details followed by pleas for the local contact to please advance a certain sum of money – varying between 40,000-90,000 baht. An ‘authority’ figure who claims to be from immigration will then call the victim, telling them that the foreigner would be held on a technicality unless money is immediately wired to a certain bank account.
The local contact is assured that once through immigration, all money will be reimbursed but that the visitor does not have access to Thai baht at this time, and the authority refuses to accept dollars.
Yesterday one such local person sent 45,000 baht into the ‘authority’s’ account.
Colonel Korakot Pochayawanit told media that the Chiang Mai International Airport has made the announcement that at no time have they ever had any detainment for cash policy and warns the Chiang Mai public to not fall for this scam. He said that it is believed that this is a call centre scam and that the persons scamming make the con very convincing by setting up believable social media profiles used in communications.
He says that it has since been found that many people have had this scam attempted on them, but so far authorities only know of one incident in Chiang Mai where money was actually sent.