An increasing number of tourists has been subjected to a very severe scam in Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, where they are accused for theft and held back until a considerable bribe is paid.
According to the British newspaper the Times, the scam can have serous consequences for the victims, such as a couple from Cambridge recently experienced.
They were falsely accused of shoplifting in Bangkok airport and were forced to pay £8,000 in bribes to secure their release are to take legal action for compensation. Stephen Ingram, 49, and Xi Lin, 45, both technology professionals from Cambridge, were detained by security guards as they went to board Qantas flight QF1 to London. They were accused of taking a Givenchy wallet worth £121 from a King Power duty-free shop and were handed over to the police. An official release order from the local Thai prosecutor’s office subsequently conceded there was no evidence against them.
The British couple was freed five days later after a frightening ordeal in which they said they were threatened and held against their will at a cheap motel on the airport perimeter until they had handed over the money. The bribes were paid to an intermediary named Sunil “Tony” Rathnayaka, a Sri Lankan national in his fifties who works as a “volunteer” interpreter for Thailand’s tourist police The newspaper states, that the Cambridge-teachers either are the first nor the last to have experiences a scam like that.
The best way to avoid the scam is to do as much of your shopping as possible outside the airport, be cautious on your belongings, so nobody would be slipping something into you back and to double (or triple-) check the receipt if you do buy something in the airport shops.