As a few others have mentioned, the Lucky Buddha temple is one of the favorite places to target tourists. I was scammed in 2002 for about $3,000. Ouch. I was surprised to see an episode on Scam City and it's still going on now, 10 years later. It prompted me to write a detailed post on my blog about it: http://bbqboy.net/falling-for-the-bangkok-gem-scam/
Once back in Canada, I tried to get help through the Thai Police, The Thai Jem and Jewellers Association, and the Thai Consulate in Ottawa. They were all useless. You best bet if you get scammed is the Thai department of Internal Affairs who can "negotiate" with the store for a refund. Unfortunately, most of these stores close and then re-open under a different name. As I say in my blog, at least you're scammed with charm - in Rio the'd just stick a gun in your face. A hard earned lesson.
In every country there are tourist traps and more tourist traps. In my travels China takes the cake in the number of assorted jewelry factories that your tour guide will send you to have time to look at the assorted products. Thailand is not an exception but in Bangkok, there is only one big jewelry factory that all the tours will send the tourists whether the big tour group or the small and personalized tours. The jewelry scam here is the Gems Gallery International, it claims to have the world biggest jewelry store and they have 4 branches, on here in Bangkok and at Pattaya, Phuket and Chiangmai. It has a 7,200 square meter showroom of assorted jewels and thai handicrafts which are really expensive. I don't really buy jewelry as it is not my thing and I hate it when trour companies make cumpolsory stops at jewelry stores in most countries in the world. The end of the city tours in bangkok will leave you here at the gem gallery and from here, there are assigned drivers and vans that take the tourists to various hotels in Bangkok.
they don't allow pictures inside so I don't have pictures of the jewelry showrooms.
Opens 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
Address: Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai Bangkok 10400, Thailand
After reading all the warnings about the gemstone scams I opted to go to the government gemstone store in bangkok. I bought a certificated sapphire ring in a silver setting for 200GBP. I was told by them that if I have any problems they will offer a refund without issue. I returned home and realised from my local jeweller that although the sapphire is genuine the actual cost of the stone is about 8GBP. I have no come back with the shop in Thailand because what they sold to me was what they claimed it to be....a sapphire and silver ring.....they still rip you off with the price. My advice is that if it's seems too good to be true it usually is!! Be prepared to be scammed in these places unless you are an expert jeweller and know the prices are accurate for whatever it is that you're buying.
It was exactly happened to me. But me and my gf ald back to sg today. We bought about S$3k and checked at sg jewel shop and the shop claims that it only worth for few hundred dollars. Reported to sg police but they said they can't do much regarding with Thai police and only give suggestion to go Thai embassy (singapore). Anything you all can help? Pls advise. Friendly, we are not rich people. Like what the man (lucky buddha temple) said, buy things for old age. Help me. Really can't sleep after read about the article and reported to police. Thailand is a kind of full with scam. You all know, I even treat a meal to the scam *** whose guide around after bought that gems. What a shame. Pls take care.
erawan lapidary 101-103 prachathipatai rd bankhunprom
hi we had the same story happening to us we got a tuk tuk 40 bath for the day got told was last day tourist tax free, went to lucky buddha and couldnt go to the temple cause the monks were having a prey, a thai man was there start talking to us and saying was last day of tax free and we should go to the export center and get good deal , next tuk tuk stop of course was the lapidary jewellery shop, we didn t plan to buy any expensive stuff, but at the end thought was good deal , than went home searched in the internet and red all this stuff about it.
ok now we are in bangkok, they insist to send the ring back to italy where I`m from so now we are here and thinking is the ring really going to be shipped and if so is going to be really worth it the money we paid for (70.000 bath for 18 k white gold ring)
same night went to a restaurant nearby the hotel , all locals no tourists, we met a local police officer he was nice had a chat and shared some stories.
same night went home and a a chat with a friend he lives here since 11 years and when we mention about the ring he said was a scam. so our head start spinning couldnt sleep thinking we`ve been ripped off about the real price of the ring. we are not rich.
next day we were feeling *** about all was happening and the fact we didnt know if the ring was really worth it what we pay , red some more bad review in the internet and decide to go back to the restaurant to see if we could met the police officer again and explain the story and get an opinion.
went there he was having a dinner with his friends, after a while he came talk to us and straight away ask if he knew about this jewellery shop, he didnt know, I showed him the piece of paper they gave me in the jewellery store and he straight away advice us to go back to the shop and ask for authentic certificate of the value of the ring, than he advice us to go back to the shop and ask for a certificate of value of the ring.
lets see whats happen tomorrow we are going to the shop and talk to erawan lapidary
I hope this is going to end up good we`ve been travelling for years never thought we were gonna be scammed
keep in touch will post more
We haven't able to book online for a hotel to stay so when we arrived in Suvarnabhumi Airport, while looking for the public transport in Sukhumvit, there's this old, fat man that approached my friend and I. He dressed in a coat that made him look a professional. He said he's working for the Royal Pacific Hotel Bangkok. Since we're looking for a place to stay, we listened on what he can offer. Exhausted and ready to sleep, we agreed to stay in their hotel and because they have this free tour on our 1st day- w/ car service and tourist guide. Well, for 1st time travelers... we got excited.
to make the story short, after the tour of some of the temples... We stopped by a jewelry shop!
The tourist guide says that 1st jewelry shop was one of the official gem/jewelry manufacturers of Bangkok and said that even Nicholas Cage was able to visit this shop after shooting his movie. And yes, they were able to prove it and we saw his picture with the staffs.
My friend and I weren't really into gems/jewelries that we kept on murmuring to each other that we mustn't spend too much money because we will still be shopping in Platinum Mall.
We were seriously scared at that moment since we were left by our tourist guide!!!!
There's this uneasy feeling we had when we can't make up our minds since the staffs doesn't want to leave us until we buy something. So we decided to buy anything, the cheapest that we can buy!!!! oh gawd!
And you know what, we were dropped by to a 2nd jewelry shop!!!!!!!!! again!!!!!!!!!! grrrrrrrr!!!!
but my friend and I agreed that we mustn't mind the staffs even they have their fierce looks on us without any purchase at all! That was the 2nd time, we were left again by our tourist guide! What a prankster!
They weren't contented by those jewelry shops, they also dropped us to the Jim Thompsons' tailoring shop and finally to their travel agency office! The office staff offered us if we were interested to book for another tour on the other part of Thailand (I can’t remember where)! OMG! We really had enough! They really insisted! and that's what I really hate like when you have no options to choose from! No freedom! Being forced to do something you don’t want! But I made myself firm to say “NO” because we don't need it! The agency staff wasn’t able to force us but he called for his manager to escalate the issue.
They’re really insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The manager wanted to find out why we can’t accept the offer, I said we just DON’T want it and we only have limited time to travel in Thailand. I even made up stories just to let us out in their office!
I dunno why there are people who take advantage and deceive others.
It seems from my story that I haven’t moved on yet.. haha, nah… I’m okay now. I just can’t help the uneasy feeling I had, at that moment. I believe that what goes around; comes back around. God Bless them!
Lesson learned: Don’t accept hotel offers from people in the airport. They would really bring you mischief by taking you to the gem/jewelry shops. Book your hotels in advance.
The classic scam is the jewellery scam. Watch out for tuk-tuk drivers who tell you the attraction you want to go to is closed (it's generally not) but they will take you to another one istead (normally a jewellery shop they get commission from). Others may even refuse to take you where you want to go unless you agree to visit a the above mentioned jewellery shop. My travel mate decided she wanted to check out some earrings, and would not hear the word scam - so we were taken to a jewellery shop. She ended up buying a pair of golden earrings - not even too cheap - and decided to wear them the same evening. needless to say she got an infection - hence golden my a**! Should you want to buy jewellery, go to an approved thai gem and jewellery trader association shop: you'll pay more, but you'll at least get what you pay for
A gentle reminder to all who visit this site. All these scams are real. I am an experienced traveller who was "scammed" into buying a low grade ruby for a great deal of money. Even the jeweller of the Swissotel Nai Lert Park was unhelpful prob due to their local courtesy. There is no special one day discount in Thailand at all. The Thai Local Product is a sham factory. There is simply no redress from the Thai Police so as a traveller, let it be reminded that "buyer bewares". The warnings about tuk-tuk or friendly teacher or lawyer are true. They can suss out gullibles [even I looked so and they were correct]. They will all claim relationships with Southeast Asians or produce false testimonies. Remember these scamsters are very sophisticated. My BKK trip was lovely but marred by these scams. Resist all temptation to buy from these shops and stick to the Thai friends' recommended ones.
We just returned from a package tour to Bangkok and pattaya, and though we enjoyed the trip, my impression of thailand has gone so bad that I will never return to this country, simply because the police or thai tourist authorities just donot care (or worse are hand in glove with day light scamsters).We were travelling to Bangkok from Pattaya when our guide announced that we would be taken to a 'govt. owned' Gem factory where we would be shown how gems are 'cut and polished' and then they would show us there the world's biggest jewelry store, which by the size of it may be true(big as a football stadium). They showed us a short film very impressively made about how Thailand was the biggest source of precious colored gems and this factory was the biggest. We were then taken down to the store where there are rows and rows of gems displayed immaculately and the smmoth talking sales girls 'talked' 6 of the families to make various purchases all amounting to about 75,000 Bahts. Even those of us who did not have cash were brainwashed smoothly to use our credit cards. We returned to our home country yesterday and when we appraised these 'precious gems' and gold jewelry the overall cost is not more than 1,000 bahts at the very most ( we cross checked with atleast 4 leading gemologists). After we realised how badly we were scammed we saw that the receipts and certificate have been given in the name of 'KK jewelers" and there is no mention of VSK any where(I couldnot also Google there website). I tried the phone numbers to no avail and we are couriering back the 'junk jewelry' back to this scamster and am trying to complain to he Thai tourist authorities about these crooks. PLEASE BE AWARE AND DONOT BUY ANY JEWELRY ORGEMS ANY WHERE IN BANGKOK. I wish some body had educated us about this fraud before.
I have been Bangkok for business reasons for three days from India .Practically speaking I never thought i had faced the scam , as we appreciated the things we purchased , my friend even though told me once we return that its devalued purchase.
Got a chance to visit Vat etc on one day . Me and my friend decided to take a MRT and then there was a tuk tuk driver outside the stop.
We decided to take the same as we thought by this way we can see things . We came to know from one person who was a thai that today Palace is closed at this time and would be open only after two as King is visiting .
We then thought to move other places , we visited 3-4 vats and we appreciated the kind of time that this tuk tuk driver is giving . We also decided to tip this guy . We met one guy from Belgium ( who told himself) and said what things you have visited , he was a friendly guy just told me about places and then said his gf purchased one watch which is very cheap here and she sold back in her country . Further adding he said that India is a good place , and he would be visiting Andaman , he has friends in Bangalore etc etc .
We just moved on . From there the tuk tuk driver took to one of the destination as per map once that gets over he gave us one letter which said " please help this driver if you visit a particular store he would get 5 litre of petrol free "
We thought its good way of supporting this guy . Boss we went there , it was huge store , lot of tourist vehicles etc . Cars were parked including tuk tuks as well. Being located in the city Agra , I know lot of things like this happen in Agra as well where after seeing Taj Mahal they take them to some of places of marble and then rip people off the money ( its disgusting when I hear about Agra , but the fact of matter is its true) .
The professional staff all the way took us inside , said it was King's own gem store so its 100 % Quality , we provide the certificate and what not . The manager then shown us the way how we process gems from raw material , ruby is found only in Thai and stories blah blah .
Even in Agra the same happens , tourist are shown how marble inlay work is being done .
Then once we entered it was huge place for jewellery , and there were ladies managers who were all the profisient to sell us . We decided not to purchase and I told them hey I do not have the money , its all in the Hotel and no cards . But by the time they asked which Hotel , I told Hotel Emerald , they said do not worry we will take care. Until thins were sold to us , they decided to drop us to the Hotel and also sent the lady to take the money in Dollars
We gave money and took the material . Until we return to India and found its devalued , even though to whom we gave were happy as they said it did not mattered value to them but who has given is important .
I did not knew that I have paid atleast twice for the same thing . So guys be careful . better do not purchase ! ! Get in your own country , it might be a little more but still you have a chance to get back . And one more thing they would also give you a picture of quality certificate . With your material photo . Oh ! what a way to make money ....
Unless you're an expert don't buy anything. But go to a gem shop because you read about all the people that got tricked into going and because you're curious about what it's all about. It's actually kinda interesting and I bet if you went to Bangkok and never went to a gem shop the curiousity of what they were about would irk you! Plus it's funny to mess around with all the sales ladies.
BEWARE OF TOUTS & GEM SCAMS: Don't fall for "friendly" guides, who speak preety good English. They may drive a taxi ot tuk-tuk.They hang out near major tourist sites, hotels and shopping areas and they'll tell you the temples are closed (holiday, cleaning, the king relatives passed away, whatever). They will try to take you along on a "get rich quick" scheme sold as a cheap day-long tour of the city. Trust me, you'll end up going to a fake gem store or a crappy tailor or a massage parlour, or worse. The tuk-tuk driver will tell you that he will get a coupon of petrol when he bring you to the shop and this will make a pitty on him and you will agreed to go to the shop in order for the driver to get free coupons, this all were lies from them. This syndicate were well perform and trained and very proffesional and to tell you some of this gang members were foreigners (Not Thai) which will try to convince you on buying the fake gems. For the Thai people of this gang, don't make shame on your country and your Beloved King. You are just making bad image on your own county and your own people, as a result we do not trust any taxi driver or tuk-tuk driver that are hanging around the tourist attraction or the hotel. Avoid hangling with tuk-tuk drivers and take a taxi (flag fall B35, with an average fare or less than B100). Always flag a moving taxi, not one waiting by the hotel or tourist site. (they just want to rip you off) For the autorities of Thailand action must be taken by their govermenton this group of syndicate to prevent them from insulting the image of Thailand. What a SHAME!
Phew! I am making another trip to Bangkok in Mar'08,Lucky Budda Temple is one of the location that I planned 2visit again! As, back in 2002, I made a wish there! I been wanted 2 go back to"thank" the wish. Well~~~Haha!
I feel so so so so so so blessed to read this here now!!! \(^_^)/
Sharing few other sites that commented about the scam as well~
OMG~I TOO,MET THIS EXACT WHOLE SCAM WHEN I WAS IN BANGKOK IN Nov2002!!! (-0-)|||
Was with friend on way to shoppng~ met this con men who managed to talked us in2 it, with addition story of this prestige monk who can look in2 our future & advice us 4better. We made the trip 2 the Lucky Buddha Temple & that's start of our ruined day!!!! After our offering 2the Buddha,we met a con man outside, sharing with us the "Gem Bargins!" at Thai Export, the Tuk tuk driver came directed us 2where the Monk is, knowing we are going to visit the monk, Mr.Con man friendly offer to wait for us.
We enter a room, the monk whom accompanied by a chinese man speaking fluent English,we introduce each other & he start looking in2 our "Future" & "Advices". The Monk advice my friend 2wear Saphhire & me,a Ruby 2bring us better luck! Thank the Monk & left, Mr. Con man still waiting outside~ relating 2what the monk advice, we thought we might get great deal for our LUCKY GEMS! So we again, stupidly flows with the scam 2Thai Export!
Well, Despite we were so so convinced by the con gem shop, being poor students then, we have neither $ nor cardit cards in their favour! Then,the lady boss nicely "offered" us 2make IDD calls 2our family members, 2transfer $ 2us 2buy their Jewellery! Glad finally we came down deciding not 2buy any,the gem shop con gangs were so furious & asked us 2pay the IDD bills! Well~We were luckily conned at overcharged rate of 100bht 4that 10~20mins IDD Calls. We were so furious with their attitude, but, gave in in order 2safely get out from there! The tuk tuk driver then pitifully asking us 2spare him 10mins 2go 2this Tailor shop without buying anything, which he later can earned a "little fee" from them. Being nice girls, we gave in~ & get out there furiously as well!
When it comes to precious stones, there is no such thing as a discount. In this industry, what you pay is what you will get. These scam artists will try to convince you otherwise.
They commonly operate at these places:
1. The Grand Palace entrance
2. Wat Pho
3. Wat Saket
4. Lately, Wat Paknam
What they will tell you:
1. The Grand Palace is closed for a festival.
2. There is a gemstone DISCOUNT only for FOREIGNERS at the Gemstone Export Centre (a non-existent entity) and it's the last day for discounts.
3. The Grand Palace will be opened later, but because we're palace officials, "Take this tuktuk for a day tour at "other tourist attractions and the Export Centre" and the tuk tuk bring you back when the palace opens in 3 hours."
4. The gemstones could be sold to a jeweller in your country of origin for a tidy profit.
You will then be met by a so called expatriate Thai (another scam artist buddy) at another location where the tuk tuk has taken you and you'll be told exactly the above. He'll then show you a receipt from a dodgy thai jeweller (where you are to go soon) for a large carat blue sapphire at a reasonable price. He'll often quote big name jewellers from your home country eg. Mappin & Webb, Aspreys, Tiffany's, Soo Kee etc. where he's "sold" his sapphire which paid for his European / American / Singapore holiday.
The scam is indeed a very elaborate and well planned endeavor to fleece alot of money off you. Many who've bought from these scam jewellery shops will find out back home that instead of buying something they were told to be undervalued, are after all genuine but low grade corundrum (the scientific name of sapphire and ruby) that have been treated with beryllium (a technique developed by the Thais themselves) to ARTIFICIALLY enhance or change its original colour, rending them undesirable and unsaleable to a jeweller. Refunds are often hard to arrange and even if successful, you will only get 80% of what you've paid plus sleepless nights and days off from work.