Khao San scam: Tourists forced to pay for returning lost wallet

PHOTO: Busy Khao San Road is often plagued by scammers targeting tourists. (File Photo)

A new warning has gone out as yet another scam is being perpetrated on foreigners in the tourist backpacker mecca that is Khao San Road. This scam targets would-be do-gooders trying to help return a lost wallet.

A man recently reported to local media that he had been leaving a bar late at night when all the clubs and nightlife shut down on the infamous party road when he stumbled upon a wallet on the ground, lying innocently next to a lamppost. He picked it up and inspected the lost wallet and discovered 1,000 baht inside.

He knew he wanted to do the right thing and turn it in, but it was very late and everything was closed, so he decided to hang onto it until the morning when he could return it to its rightful owner. The next day, a woman came around to claim the lost wallet, but that’s when things took a turn for the worse.

Instead of being thankful for the good Samaritan returning her lost item, she demanded to know what happened to the other 5 or 6 thousand baht that had been in the purse when she lost it. The argument escalated and the police were involved.

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The Chana Songkram police inform the man that his good deed had left him on the hook for the money the lost wallet owner claimed was missing. They advised him, despite his protests, that if he didn’t pay her the money, he could be prosecuted for theft.

The man was shocked that the police were taking the woman’s side and treating him as a criminal for trying to help. He tried to get assistance and contacted local friends who are Thai nationals, but no one could do anything to aid him and, in the end, he had no choice but to pay the woman for helping her.

Local vendors confirm that this was not the first time they heard of this scam being pulled on international travellers in the busy tourist area. Many are appealing to the police and authorities to take action to prevent this and other scams from being carried out.

Tourism stands in a fragile balance, with only a fraction of the numbers previously travelling to Thailand before Covid, and scams like this being perpetuated and publicized will drive tourists away when the country is desperately trying to bring them back.

For now, think twice about picking up a lost wallet you find on the street.


Bangkok NewsCrime News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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