Much has been said and written about getting scammed in Thailand and the general consensus is that cheating folk outta money just ain’t right. Yet, however, there are also a damned lot of people out there who say “If you get scammed in Thailand, you deserve it, it’s your own fault for being so dumb”. Doesn’t this kind of mind-frame however, actually legitimize cheating people out of money? Like almost giving the cheats two thumbs up for their impressive swindling techniques.
Working on the Internet and spending a lot of my time reading and so writing about vacationing in Thailand, I can confess that there are millions of wanna-be travelers to Thailand out there who would fit the adjective ‘dumb’ very appropriately. In fact, anyone who claims that you gotta be special ‘dumb’ to get cheated in such a way as the infamous gem scam is quite obviously over-estimating the intelligence of others! It’s like the political situation in Thailand, living in Bangkok, we’ve hardly been affected, if at all, by demonstrations and previous bust-ups, but zillions of near-future travelers (booked their tickets already) are shaking at the knees in fright at the prospect of coming here – even though there are thousands of Internet forums and web-board threads out there with uncountable comments on them stating that the capital is pretty damned safe. Expats who think that scared tourists must be ‘dumb’, haven’t realized that they are talking about a great percentage of people.
The way some tourists are so gullible when they get to Thailand and get scammed also amazes me. Take a common scenario, Mr Bob from the UK is on his the way to the Grand Palace with his wife when he gets accosted by some dodgy looking Thai geezer dressed in jacket and tie who informs him that the place is shut. After a quick chat, the dodgy Thai bloke advises him that he knows of a gem store which knocks out bargain jewels. Cutting a long story short, Mr Bob buys a bunch of gems for as much or even more than they would cost back home. He thinks he has got a bargain!
Some people will cry “Oh my God! This Bob geezer is so unbelievably dumb he deserves what he got!” Or does he? Just cause someone is totally naïve to any scam, does that legitimize cheating people out of money? Sure, a lot of these scammers will legitimize their actions by saying “Never mind Farangs are rich”. And shiver-me-timbers, even myself and Richard have been criticized by some expats on the Internet for even complaining about double-pricing. According to their opinion, there is no problem with the two-tiered price system, as again foreigners generally have more cash than Thais. Let me ask, just cause someone is wealthy, does that legitimize scamming them?
The gullible above in the gem scam are often ridiculed for being so dumb, and so no pity is given. Yet, at the same time, many of the ridiculers have once been the victim of the most classic Thai scam of all, the great lady/bride one.
The scenario goes like this, George from Boston has just been divorced after 20 years of unhappy marriage and comes to Thailand to give it a shot at making a new life. His first destination is the beautiful sunny seashore resort of Pattaya. After a couple of nights out on the razz, he meets the girl of his dreams, the ravishing Miss Lek. This Miss Lek, he informs everyone, is not the same as any other girl working in a Pattaya bar. “Lek has just arrived in Pattaya, she’s a virgin, a good girl, she’s not after my money”. What George has yet to notice however, is that his future ex-wife has wringing stretch-marks and the word “John” tattooed across her bum. Poor-old George soon marries his delicious darling and immediately builds, for his mum-in-law, a super-dooper new house and 3 bravo buffaloes.
They live a nice existence until George, one day, on returning home early, unexpectedly finds Lek, on the floor naked, in a position similar to that of a dog having a piss, with her ‘brother’ riding her from behind in style. And it is this ‘brother’ whom George had initially met that glorious night in Pattaya when he first met his future ex-wife, the supposedly innocent virgin.
George goes on to lose every baht he invested in dad’s tractor, mum’s house, sister-in-law’s 50 cows, family’s 7 motorbikes and half a million in Lek’s bank account.
Many who know George scream “That’s disgusting! Poor George! What a shame! That girl was a scoundrel. How terrible that none of the family ever told George the truth of the brother = actual husband!”
So, if George was the victim of a scam, should he also be ridiculed at being amazingly dumb and so deserved to be cheated out of money? He too was wealthy, so for those that believe that it is all right to sneakily acquire plenty of cash out of farangs – George too ‘deserved it’. What difference is their really between Lek, her mum, her brother and the scamming gem artist in fine attire? Can anyone legitimize Lek’s action because she was poor and Bob was rich and dumb and so worthy of being scammed?
Who can not say that George wasn’t as dumb if not dumber that Bob?
I am sure that all of us have been cheated out of our well-earned cash sometime in our life for being ‘dumb’. Looking back to such an instance we think “How could I have been so stupid?” But it happened, and by jolly, who is gonna think that the person who cheated us did it legitimately?
As for the case of scams in Thailand in general, many critics laugh at the stupidity of the victims. Yet, most of the scams would fool most people such as the taxi one at the airport or the official looking one inside Hualumpong Train Station where guys in shirt and tie and pinned ID card inform you that the train you want is full “But never mind I know of a bus service”. Or how about the jet-ski one, where you rent a jet-ski and on giving it back you are told that some damage has been inflicted and so you will have to pay for repair which runs into thousands.
At the end of the day, there is no level at which one can claim that “This victim deserved it but this one didn’t” or in the case of legitimizing over-charging scams “This guy is wealthier than this guy so he should pay 80baht for his Phat Thai instead of the usual 40baht”.
Regardless of how ‘dumb’ an honest person is, it just ain’t right to say that he deserves to get cheated out of his money. And I use the word ‘honest’ as there are some foreigners who do get cheated due to their own illegitimate greediness or intention to scam others, as in the ‘help to cheat at cards scam’ or export gems at a profit illegally scam. Get scammed in those kinds of instances, then you ain’t getting any sympathy from us or anyone else – including www.bangkokscams.com