Using business cards bearing a remarkable resemblance to those of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, a civilian Norwegian man has been offering consular services to Norwegian citizens in Thailand for over six months now. So far, several Norwegians have trusted the man, convinced by his seemingly professional and friendly behavior, which he has used to assist people in need of either local hospital treatment or other services.
The Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok has recently received reports from hospitals in Thailand after “the fake consul” has contacted these, charging them a commission for providing them with extra patients.
This has now made the Embassy issue a warning via its website and via emails to Thailand-based Norwegians, in which they are advised not to receive any consular help from others than the employees at the Embassy, the General Consulate in Phuket, or the Honorary Consulate in Pattaya.
“Going through a middle man who does not have complete information or a correct overview of Norwegian rules and regulations, and who obviously interprets the said rules and regulations in an incorrect manner, can easily be damaging to your own interests,” the Embassy writes in an email, which was sent to all Norwegians in Thailand on June 8.
Quoted in the Local Media
The man’s motive remains unknown – also to the Embassy, which does not wish to reveal the man’s name, hoping that he will take this issued warning as a last chance to avoid public humiliation. Ambassador Ragne Birte Lund confirms that the Embassy has been in touch with the man, but she has no further comments until the Embassy has awaited the reaction of the recently released warning.
In his attempt to act as a representative for either the Foreign Ministry or the National Office for Social Insurance Abroad, the man has frequently given wrong information to Norwegians who asked him for assistance. He has even been quoted in parts of the local media as a spokesman for Norway’s representation in Thailand.
“We are familiar with several cases where a middle man, under false pretenses, has misinterpreted rules and regulations, made communication more difficult and therefore damaged the case of the individuals that the middle man claimed to assist,” the Embassy states in its warning.
In most cases, the misinformed Norwegian citizens have come into contact with the man through public events, but the Embassy does not know whether the man has other methods through which to find his “clients”.