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Change Money Scam in Bangkok

Change Money Scam in Bangkok

Old Jul 29, 06, 9:25 pm
  #1  
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Change Money Scam in Bangkok

I found this post dated March 2006 in another forum and would like to warn everyone:
I had to change $20,000 into pounds sterling and I wanted to get the best rate possible. I called around the banks and money changers in Pattaya and then phoned Vasu, an exchange office near skvt soi 9 in BKK that I had used many times before for much smaller transactions. When I did the calculations I was going to save 15,000 baht by going to Bangkok, and also they promised that getting hold of English 50 pound notes was no problem. When I arrived at Vasu with my girlfriend we were ushered into a small side office. A clerk that I had seen many times before took my $20,000 and started to count it. I myself had counted the cash 3 times and had put it in elasticated bundles of $1000. After a couple of minutes and with the cash now all lumped together the clerk looked up from across the desk and said quite calmly that there was only $16,000. He pushed the money back over to me and indeed there was only $16,000. However, I knew it was a con and I wasn't going mad because 20 elastic bands remained on the desk. I got a terrible sinking feeling in my gut but didn't outwardly show anything. I suddenly realised that the whole buisiness is a set up to get unwitting customers, making large transactions, into that purpose built office. I noticed for example that the desk was much wider than usual and it went wall to wall so nobody could easily cross to the other side. People that carry out this type of sting in Thailand are organised and dangerous. I quickly decided that trying to use force would be unwise, they must be prepared for that eventuality. I and my girlfriend could end up injured or shot and maybe I would lose the rest of the money. I decided that the best policy was to get out of there with as much as I could. The clerk counted out the English pounds and handed them to me. I counted the money twice and then examined each note as best I could for signs of forgery. Thankfully the pounds were genuine.
So it was that I lost $4,000. Wonderful! Before anybody slags me off too much I want to explain why this con worked with me. First, this buisiness has operated for many years and I and many friends had used it without problems many times. Second, the clerks were not obvious in trying to get my buisiness. They did not offer an unbelievable rate but rather what I had expected, about 1/2 baht better per dollar/baht and the same per baht/pound. Third, it was going to be impossible to get a lot of 50 pound notes from the banks in Pattaya. I have since been introduced to a chinese money changer in Pattaya that could probably of handled the transaction. If I had not been in Thailand as long as I have I would definitely have started a fight, but where might that have got me? Like I said they must of run this scam many times and they must have all angles covered. If the police were called, and let's face it they are probably in on the con anyway, they would probably confiscate the $16,000 for some BS reason. They would want to know why A British man was in Thailand in possession of so many dollars, even though there was a good explanation I would of had difficulty proving it. When I told a Thai friend of mine about this he said that among Thai criminal gangs this is a well known scam. The perps would only try it with people that could not make them a serious problem. He added that the gang could have been wanting me to start a fight so that they could steal the rest of the money.
For the record the clerk in question is skilled in counting the money so that some of the notes pile up into a ball in the palm of one hand. He then discreetly pulls this cash a short distance back over the desk's edge. Below an accomplice, often a small child, scoops up the money and disappears back under the desk, and possibly through a short tunnel into the next office. To a normal (but cynical) person the slight of hand would be very difficult to detect.
One of my suppliers already told me that he was not changing big money with Vasu because they were "unprofessional". Only now do I understand what he meant.
If you want to change large sums, play safe and stay with superrich. They have the best rates anyway. PM me for a namecard if needed.
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Old Jul 30, 06, 1:14 am
  #2  
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Can you offer the link to the other forum? Or PM it to me. Would like to see the responses, if any. Thanks.

I've used Vasu a few times, rate was equivalent those days vs. Superrich, and more convenient for me. I did not notice a "back room" at Vasu, the money-changing counter is in a separate sort of back area from the travel agency, other than the window where they pass your currency back to, after having given you a signed receipt with the amount, rate and resulting amount. Everyone queued at the counter, and they used a manual count and an automatic counting machine (twice), all in plain view, for my transactions. I then scoot across the street and deposit THB into my Bangkok Bank account. On my one exchange at Superrich I felt like I was being watched closely on the walk back out to Ratchadamri Road. I've set up a wire xfer process between Bank of America and Bangkok Bank, which can be initiated via the internet, and costs three USD. It does take 3 - 5 days, but I get a better rate than carrying in USD/TravChx. (I've also set up domestic wire xfers, which can be initiated by telephone call, between my US-based accounts and Bangkok Bank PLC in NYC, which then converts to THB and transfers into my Bangkok Bank account. I discovered this capability quite by accident!)
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Old Jul 31, 06, 8:48 pm
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Since that is not a free forum, I don't want to post the link here. But I have contacted the guy who posted the report and asked him to join this thread.

I did not put the google ads into my post neither do I agree to them.

Last edited by HKtraveller; Aug 1, 06 at 7:14 pm Reason: comment about the google ads.
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Old Aug 1, 06, 5:45 pm
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Sounds like the guy is trying to avoid declaring $20000 USD. Banks report all large transactions like this one to the government. He is on the shady side of the street.
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Old Aug 1, 06, 7:12 pm
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Originally Posted by glob99
Sounds like the guy is trying to avoid declaring $20000 USD. Banks report all large transactions like this one to the government. He is on the shady side of the street.
Even I would never declare cash to customs in Thailand. A similar story could happen there as some of them are also looking for such a side income. I already had terrible stories with them depositing my luggage in customs bond. If you send money in by bank, they will convert it to Baht at a much lower rate than Superrich. Superrich is ratewise one of the best places in the world to change (for example) Euros to US Dollars in cash.
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Old Aug 1, 06, 7:29 pm
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My gut feel is that this is a bogus post and that the OP is a competitor of the original listed currency exchange, and probably affiliated with the one they have mentioned as being great.

If it is legal to transfer money in... the banks will do it competitively, or they would not get the business. If they exchange small amounts of $, then the same would apply to large.

As mentioned if someone feels they need to be under the radar of government eyes... then it is probably an illegal transaction... and that's too bad if they get ripped off. I guess the price of ethics.
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Old Aug 1, 06, 7:45 pm
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shady customer, crooked establishment.

just makes me more inclined to use Thai Farmers, Military or Standard Chartered etc. Not that I'd carry so much cash anyway.
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Old Aug 1, 06, 7:49 pm
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Originally Posted by Tiojelly
My gut feel is that this is a bogus post and that the OP is a competitor of the original listed currency exchange, and probably affiliated with the one they have mentioned as being great.
I am German, live in Hong Kong an run a company in Hong Kong. My only business in Thailand is one supplier for silver jewellery.

The guy who has written the original report has not mentioned anything about superrich, that was only me. Now, the banks always take their share. For example I personally use moneybookers to transfer large sums from Germany to Hong Kong and the cost per transfer is 1,80 Euro not depending on the sum. Why can't the other banks do that. (www.moneybookers.com) And moneybookers is, due to money laundering laws very accurate about your details proofing that your company is for real.

I am working with a silver supplier, who when I pay him foreign Currency cash, always changes with superrich, As I did, and most of the money changers in Bangkok do. The company is 100% legal. The setback is the location they are in, so that the long way doesn't pay if the amount to change is small. So I came across Vasu (a travel agent with a money changing license), which is in a way more convenient location. I changed there a couple of times small amounts with no problem, until I saw the report about them. Then I asked my supplier about Vasu and he only said: "They are not professional. I changed there before but will not go again. For small sums they are ok, because not too far."

I hope the guy who has originally written this report will show up here and give more details.

I do know that in the US everybody who carries cash is a suspect. But in Europe its the other way. Many people don't use cards yet because they don't want to pay the charges.

And I will not comment on this any further, because it seems the people responding here are not really interrested. But maybe someone passes by whom I have saved a bad experience. Then it's for good.

Last edited by HKtraveller; Aug 1, 06 at 7:55 pm
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Old Aug 2, 06, 8:38 pm
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I think this thread is useful. I will not carry 20K USD to exchange in BKK.
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Old Aug 3, 06, 3:25 pm
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Originally Posted by HKtraveller
Even I would never declare cash to customs in Thailand. A similar story could happen there as some of them are also looking for such a side income. I already had terrible stories with them depositing my luggage in customs bond. If you send money in by bank, they will convert it to Baht at a much lower rate than Superrich. Superrich is ratewise one of the best places in the world to change (for example) Euros to US Dollars in cash.
Some banks offer USD or Euro accounts so there is no conversion into Baht.
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Old Aug 3, 06, 8:26 pm
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Originally Posted by glob99
Some banks offer USD or Euro accounts so there is no conversion into Baht.
But I doubt that you can get the Euros or USD out in cash without a heavy charge. Please prove me wrong. In Hong Kong I can deposit/withdraw 5000 USD cash (Euros only 500, what a discrimination!) per day in HSBC on a premier account without charges.
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