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Fraudulent Jewellery and Gem Sales (Gem Scams)

Many Canadians request advice in obtaining a refund for jewellery or gemstones that they have purchased which they later find have a value far less than claimed by the seller. If this has happened to you, you are not alone. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) receives over 1000 complaints a year regarding fraudulent sales and gem scams.

The Embassy can offer information to assist you in retrieving packages and negotiating for a refund. However, the Embassy cannot act on the purchasers’ behalf or assist directly in obtaining a refund. Canadians in Thailand are obliged to abide by the laws of Thailand, and full refunds have proven very difficult to obtain. Note also that in attempting to locate and refund the purchase, a traveller should be careful not to exceed their travel budget or illegally overstay their visa, resulting in fines or worse (see Extending Your Stay in Thailand section, below).

Information about fraudulent jewellery purchases in Thailand can be found online at:

To report your story or obtain support, send an email to: thaigemscamgroup@yahoo.com

Procedure

Time is critical as stores often close or relocate. Note that even with the jewellery in hand, buyers may have difficulty claiming refunds. Thai authorities can do little to help, and from past reports, a buyer should only hope for a refund of 50 to 90 percent at best.

The following steps should assist in locating, retrieving and returning jewellery. Be sure to have all the documents related to your purchase ready.

  • Report the issue to the local police and obtain a Police Report
  • Retrieve the jewellery. Mailing the jewellery from the country is one method shops use to help ensure difficulty in obtaining any refund. If sent, the package must be retrieved.
  • Locate the package
  • Return the package to Thailand
  • Request a refund by negotiating at the store. Authorities can provide limited assistance. However, note that the Department of Internal Trade has reportedly aided in obtaining refunds of up to 70 percent.

Report the Issue

  • The police should be contacted to file a report. The Tourist Police or TAT will refer the purchaser to the proper local police station. Note that the police cannot assist with negotiation with the store.
  • A tourists’ complaint may be forwarded to the Office of the Consumer Protection Board, but simply verifying the existence of the stores is a time consuming process, and stores are often found closed prior to the completion of a complaint or negotiation.
  • Report to the Department of Internal Trade, which has offered some assistance in negotiations with stores for buyers, and has reportedly retrieved 70 percent of the purchase cost on the some buyers’ behalf. However, if a shop has closed, they are powerless to help.
  • If you paid by credit card, report the fraudulent sale to your credit card company or bank (See Authorities list for hotlines). During their investigation there should be no interest charge on your purchase.

Locate your Package

Some packages mailed to Canada may be retrieved before leaving Thailand, while others, possibly held by Canada Border Services Agency, must be sent back. If your package was shipped, first determine if your package has already been sent from Thailand or not:

  • Retrieve the EMS receipt and package number if possible. It should be obtained from the jewellery store - you may ask the tourist police to have the store deliver the information.
  • Contact EMS Customer Services to inquire whether the package has already been sent from Thailand. If the package is with Canadian Customs, ask which Customs Mail Centre is holding the package.
  • If you’ve no EMS information, the Thai Mail Centre can assist in tracking the package, and require only the time and date of purchase and buyer’s name.
  • If you have EMS information, you may wish to locate your package through Canada Post.
  • If the package has not been sent, contact the Laksi and Don Muang Mail Centres. They will hold packages sent in your name for pickup.

Returning packages that have arrived in Canada to Thailand

If the buyer has no fixed address in Thailand, he or she should send the package to the most secure location available for pickup. If necessary, packages can be sent back to Thailand to the Poste Restante in Bangkok where they will be held for 2 months, and courier services may have facilities to hold packages for pickup.

The TAT advises that to avoid your returning package being seized by Thai customs, the following procedures should be followed:

  • You may request that the TAT accept the package on your behalf. Contact them for information on sending care of TAT.
  • The words "rejected" and "cheap merchandise returned for refund" should be written on the registered parcel. Declare a value of "US$20" for the jewellery or gemstones. Do not take out insurance on the parcel.
  • The TAT advises not to send the jewellery through a courier company but through the local post office to avoid Thai customs. However, there are cases where packages were couriered safely.
  • All documents from the shop should be sent together with the jewellery or gemstones.
  • Return with the unopened original packaging inside a new envelope / package.

If your packages are held by Thai customs, contact them at the Laksi or Bangkok Postal Centres.

Obtaining a Refund

There is no guarantee of obtaining any refund at all. Dubious jewellery stores are known to close down frequently or change names. Most often, you will have no hard documentation about fraudulent claims, and unless the store has in fact sold fake gems (a rare occurrence) legal support is unlikely.

Nonetheless, many tourists have reported obtaining a refund of between 50 and 90 percent of the original price paid. Stores are apparently motivated to make refunds simply to avoid further trouble, and some may ask you to sign a declaration stating that you are now ‘happy’ with the deal, preventing any further legal action.

A buyer should be determined and persistent about obtaining their refund, but do not be rude or overly pushy. Some buyers have reported violence, and Thai authorities have warned of stores being capable of targeting buyers with beatings, though no report indicates this has ever occurred. Rather than confront the stores alone, you may wish to request the Tourist Police have the store send a representative to negotiate at the police station. Again, polite determination is the key.

While most Thai authorities are powerless to provide real aid and may be indifferent, registering the issue could help resolve the situation for the benefit of future tourists. Of Thai authorities, the Department of Internal Trade (DIT) alone has directly aided tourists. They have reportedly retrieved up to 70 percent of the purchase cost on some buyers’ behalf. They will gather all claims against one gem shop and, with one or more claimants currently in the country, negotiate on behalf of all claimants. However, if a shop has already closed, they are powerless to help.

You must be in Bangkok two weeks and notify the DIT one week in advance. The jewellery will first be evaluated by the Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association to determine if the buyer was overcharged. If so, a DIT officer will join the purchaser on a tour of each place in Bangkok the purchaser was led, recording addresses and taking photos. The Director General of DIT will then submit the case to the police, who will then submit it to the Attorney General. The police will now be in charge of the case, and the purchaser will be required to act as witness.

If you are not in Thailand

If the store is still open you can give the DIT your gems and receipt to negotiate on your behalf even after you’ve left the country. See the previous section for more information.

Otherwise, a buyer has little recourse unless planning to return to Thailand. A buyer must be present to make a police report and no agencies exist that can help in representation. Even so, the Embassy recommends that the TAT and the DIT be contacted to report the issue.

Extending your Stay in Thailand

Be careful that while attempting to refund your purchase you do not overstay your visa. Overstay is illegal and you may be detained by police. At a minimum, you will be charged a fine of 200 Baht per day by Thai Immigration payable upon departure, to a maximum of 20,000 Baht.

If you are not eligible for a regular visa extension, you may request a special extension at the discretion of the Immigration office. Following are the steps to take:

  • From the Department of Internal Trade request a copy of your passport, purchase receipt and a Thai letter explaining the situation.
  • Go to the Immigration Office with the above documents and request the appropriate form at counter 4 or 5.
  • Complete the form and submit with 2 copies of your passport, one photo, the letter from Internal Trade, and the appropriate fee.
  • This reportedly permits a 15 days extension, extendable a further 45 days if required at no additional charge.

EMS Notice

If you send valuable items (such as platinum, gold or silver, precious stones, and jewels) by EMS, the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) is not liable for any loss which may occur outside the mail route under the responsibility of the CAT.

List of Authorities to Contact 

Tourist Police
CMIC Tower, 209/1 Sukhumvit Rd. 21 (Asoke)
Hotline: 1155 (daily, 8:30 to 16:30)
Tel: 0 2664-4000

Office of Tourism Development
154 Rama 1 Rd.
Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: 0 2214-0193
Fax: 0 2216-5515
To file a complaint:
E-mail: webmaster@mots.go.th or
P.O. Box 345, Rongmeung Post, Bangkok 10330

Tourism Authority of Thailand
1600 New Phetchaburi Road, Makkasan, Ratchathewi , Bangkok 10400
TAT Call Centre 1672 (08.00-20.00 hrs.) Fax: 0 2250-5511
E-mail: center@tat.or.th

Department of Internal Trade
Monitoring and Operation Bureau

Mr. Manat Soiploy, Director
2 Maharaj Road
Bangkok 10200
(Courtyard entrance is south of Wat Pho and north of the Police station)
Tel: 0 2622-2424, Fax: 0 2622-2413
Email: manats@dit.go.th

The Office of the Consumer Protection Board
Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue
Bangkok 10300 (opposite Ministry of Education)
Tel: 0 2281-0580, 0 2281-3229, 0 2281-4540

EMS Customer Services
Tel: 0 2506-3096 - 8, Fax: 0 2506-3095

Laksi Mail Centre (near airport)
Tel/fax: 0 2984-7314

EMS
Tel/Fax: 0 2984-7323
Outgoing EMS
Tel: 0 2984-7309 ext. 4241
Incoming EMS
Tel: 0 2984-7317
Investigation Unit
Tel: 0 2984-7304 ext. 4140

Don Muang Mail Centre (at Airport)
Tel: 0 2535-6293 - 6 ext. 301, 305, or EMS
Fax: 0 2535-6290

Poste Restante, Bangkok
General Post Office

Charoen Krung Road (near Oriental Hotel)
Bangkok 10501
Thailand
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 08:00 - 20:00, Sun. 08:00 - 13:00
Tel: 0 2614-2360, 0 2233-1050 - 60 ext. 2360

(Address packages as shown)

Name Surname
Poste Restante
General Post Office
Bangkok 10501
Thailand

Thai Customs at Laksi Postal Centre
Tel: 0 2984-7325

Thai Customs at Bangkok Postal Centre
Tel: 0 2215-0966 - 8
Fax: 0 2216-8822, 0 2215-3717

Jewel Fest Club (JFC)
Thai Gems and Jewellery Traders Association (TGJTA)
(For inquiries regarding the reputation of jewellery establishments)
Jewelry Trade Center 52nd Floor ,
Silom Rd., Bangrak , Bangkok 10500
Tel: 0 2630-1390 - 7
Fax: 0 2630-1398 - 9
Email: tgita@mozart.inet.co.th

Jewellers’ Association of Thailand
42/1 Soi Phanumad
Ban-Mor Road, Bangkok 10200
Tel: 0 2221-4465, 0 2223-9651

Geological Survey Division
Department of Mineral Resources
(For precious stones certification)
Rama 6 Road, Bangkok 10400
Tel: 0 2246-1694, 0 2246-0040
Fax: 0 2245-9855
Telex: 84763 DEPMIRE TH

Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences
(For precious stones certification)
484 Ratchada Pisek Road
Bangkok 10310
Tel: 0 2513-2112
Fax: 0 2236-7803
Telex: 22518 HOGROUP TH

Immigration Bureau
(Mon-Fri: 08:30 - 16:30)
Soi Suan Plu
South Sathorn Road
Bangkok 10120
Tel 0 2287-3101 - 10

Credit Card Hotlines (Bangkok):
Visa: 0 2273-7449
MasterCard: 0 2260-8572
American Express: 0 2273-0022 - 44
Diners: 0 2238-2660

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Date Modified:
2012-03-15