How it all started

Here is my story of what happened to me and my wife. More information will follow.

===

On the morning of 16th September 2006, my wife and I were walking towards the Skytrain station in the Pratunam area when we stopped to look at the map in front of a building opposite the Pratunam market. A middle-aged Thai guy stopped to ask us where we were going, and we told him Chatuchak Market. He told us that the market doesn’t open so early, and only in the afternoon. This guy was really friendly and started drawing on our map while explaining that it was a special Buddhist day that day and we should really visit the Lucky Buddha Temple, which is normally not visited by the tourist groups. Then we thanked him and walked away after he was done. Then came another guy almost immediately after the last guy left. This guy, a skinny, older gentleman with white hair, was dressed very smartly in long sleeve and tie. He introduced himself as the Chief Security at PJ Watergate Hotel, the hotel where we stayed. Since he knew where we stayed, we assumed he was really whom he claimed to be. Again, he asked us where we were going to, and we told him we were headed to the Chatuchak market. Again, he said the same thing, that they don’t open so early and it was a special Buddhist day that day. Then he started talking about a special offer that a particular gem company was offering, adding that this is the place where Poh Heng Jewelry (a famous jewelry shop in Singapore) procured their raw rubies and sapphires for the jewelry they sell in Singapore. He also wrote down the name ‘Yin Dee’ on a piece of paper for us. When asked where we could get toys for our kids, the gentleman told us Big C (which we found out later that they did not sell any toys!) Not particularly interested in jewelry ourselves, we thought that we might probably visit the shop during our next trip, but we nevertheless decided to take a look at the temple since we were ‘early’. He said he could get us a tuktuk at a cheap rate and would send us to the temple and then to Big C at 30 bahts.

When at the ‘Lucky Buddha’ temple, we found that there were suspiciously very few people there for a supposedly ‘special Buddhist day’, but nevertheless, we just burned a couple of joss sticks and prayed for our family’s wellbeing. Then we were shown to a statue of a very old and worn-out looking Sleeping Buddha in the next room. There, a gentleman was burning joss sticks. When we started lighting the joss sticks, the late 30-ish, early 40s gentleman said, ‘mister, this is the wrong way, you must burn the candle first, and then the joss sticks and sit here to meditate’. so we did just that. And this guy started telling us he is American citizen and he has made his annual trip back to Bangkok, where he was born, to pray to the buddha for good health. He also told us the buddha statue next door was 700 years old, etc. To cut the story short, he started telling us about how he would come back Bangkok to buy jewelry from a gem mining shop by the name of Yin Dee, during this week in September and that Saturday was the last day of the discount.

Recognizing the name, I took out the piece of paper to compare the name. At that moment, my wife and I were convinced it was fated that we landed in Bangkok on this ‘auspicious’ day. So we took up the offer to go down to Yindee Lapidary to take a look. Not interested in profiteering myself, the thing he said that caught my attention was that he bought the gems for his mum and wife and kids to wear to bring them good fortune. I wanted to do it for my loved ones to.

So, we asked him to get the tuktuk driver to send us to Yindee instead of Big C. When at Yindee, we were introduced to Jenny, the ‘Gemologist’ of the company, who gave us a free lecture on gemstones. Then she brought us upstairs and offered us coffee. Then she brought out some ruby sets to show us. To prove that the gemstones are real, she even used a professional looking instrument called DiamondMate to show us that the gemstones were indeed genuine. After looking at a few sets, I decided to buy a ruby set for about 100,000 THB for my wife and mum and a sapphire ring worth 33,000 THB was given to me by my wife.

We left the place, happy that we have got a good deal.

It was when we returned to Singapore that we realized Yindee is famous for scam. We then went to the pawnshop for valuation and we were told all the things we bought for almost S$5600 are worth about $400 at most.

I had not bought the gemstones because I wanted to make a quick buck off it. I bought it because I believed that cheater’s story of blessing for his family. People pay the price for being greedy, I pay the price for my love of my loved ones.

My wife raised a few questions after we purchased the things. Every time, we came to a conclusion that, it was impossible to pull off such a scam considering the ‘scale’ of the shop we saw. Never in our wildest dreams do we realize that this scam is so sophisticated, well-planned and well-executed. Greed and love, these are the two typical traits of humans and unless one has been warned before, it is almost impossible to be able to discern truth from scam at the very moment.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Bangkok Gems, Bangkok Tourists, Scam, Singapore, Thai Gem Scam, Yindee

7 Comments on “How it all started”

  1. clubsiam Says:

    Thai Tourist Mafia. at the Erawan Shrine.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/21533131@N06/

  2. Mark Azavedo Says:

    Sadly scammers can have a massive intuitive ability, or, at least, analytical ability after a few sentences to uncover our weakness, whether that be greed or love of family, or for that matter, anything else.

    The scammer readily located the writer’s weakness.Perhaps even more to the point, he located his belief system.This wasn’t a selfish, greedy one, but his wanting to believe in good fortune for his family was his vulnerability.

    Don’t share you vulnerabilities with strangers, they’re only for you and those close to you to know.In fact, in conversation with strangers, and you shouldn’t be fearful of that, aim to take the conversation to them, not them to you.

  3. Mark Azavedo Says:

    That should have read “don’t share your vulnerabilities”.

    • agstthaigemscam Says:

      Mark,

      Don’t naively think that they need you to “share your vulnerabilities”. They have a modus operandi in which they try different methods to “touch your heart”, be it greed, love of the family, etc.

      Believe me, if I had not fallen for that, more and more waves of trickery will follow suit. They will send one of your coutrymen to “bump into” you in the shop, etc.

      You can run, but you cannot hide… They will get you if you have been identified…

  4. penny Says:

    OMG OMG….. now that only i know i myself had fell into a trap…
    It’s exactly the same story as you.. how shame that the fellow touch my heart with such sweet memory in the marriage to gave persuade me on buying the gem…
    Luckily i had only bought a pendent cost me 5000Bath, but it’s still a pain on my neck and how ashame this is an anniversary gift frm my loved one…
    Yea, it’s true, the trap that they put on, you can barely run frm it, it’s just waiting for u to step in it…
    so, Guys , be smart , not to fell in the same trap again!!!!

  5. Lamingo Says:

    I was really lucky to narrowly avoid being caught by the same scam just in late Dec 2010. After being told the same story about the GEM SCAM, I was so convinced that I was prepared to open my wallet (using my credit card) to spend up to $5000 for the GEMs to make a profit back home actually, but somehow I smelled some rotten egg and decided not to do it. After going back to my hotel, talked to some other people about it I realized I was just lucky to narrowly avoid being caught by these bastards. So please be careful people when you travel to Thailand.

  6. Jason Lee Says:

    I wish I read your blog before I made the same mistake.Just got conned by same company.


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