Fraudsters are attempting to capitalize on the recent strikes by government workers in the UK, which have caused delays in passport renewals, by promising to bypass the three-month waiting period for a fee.
The scam involves fake websites such as UK-renewpassport.net and emails from similar-named sources promising to expedite the passport renewal process through international money transfer systems like Western Union, Pattaya Mail reported.
The British Foreign Office is advising British nationals in Thailand who want to renew their passports not to fall into a trap and deal only with authorized application centres in Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
The scams in Thailand are similar to those already identified by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) in the UK, where many Brits have been tricked into believing they can get bargain-basement air tickets or cheap foreign holidays. However, in Thailand, the scams appear to target expat Brits who specifically want to renew their passports quickly.
The CTSI said…
“This scam has arisen as people try to bypass the inevitable delays, but paying money online for special favours is a recipe for disaster.”
The British Foreign Office website confirms that there is no fast-track service available overseas. The cost of an adult renewal is currently £127.51 (5,500 baht) for 34 pages and £138.51 for 50 pages, inclusive of courier fees. Local staff in Thailand will check the required paperwork before transferring and returning the original documentation to the applicant.
While it is not illegal to use a representative or agency to submit a passport application in Thailand, applicants must be selective in whom they trust.
British nationals residing in Thailand and UK residents should be wary of these fast-track passport scams and only deal with authorized application centres. While it may be tempting to pay a fee to expedite the passport renewal process, it is important to remember that there is no fast-track service available overseas, and paying money online for special favours is not a safe or reliable option.
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