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100+ foreigners ripped off in education visa scam on Koh Pha Ngan

The Thaiger

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100+ foreigners ripped off in education visa scam on Koh Pha Ngan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Manager Online
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A language school in Koh Pha Ngan has ripped off more than 100 tourists claiming that they were able to issue them with a 1 year education visa.

A group of the victims have made an official report with the local police over the scam. The tourists were from the US, UK, Germany, France and Russia. Manager Online report that more than 100 people had been allegedly conned by the school in the Sri Thanu area of the island. The report explained that the people had originally heard about the school being able to get them a 1 year education visa from teachers working there.

The group have now made an official report, sending documentation to Koh Phangan district chief Poonsak Sophonpathumrak and the island’s chief of police Pol Col Phisit Wisetwong and Immigration police.

They allege that they had been asked for 40,000 baht each for courses at the school on the understanding that the school would issue visas for them, changing their Non-B into an ED-Visa, as a way of extending their time in Thailand.

They told police that they had put down a 50% down payment tot eh school. Their visas were promised five weeks ago. But when no paperwork turned up they headed to the mainland Surat Thani immigration office where they were told it wasn’t possible to change a Non-B into an education (ED) visa. When they confronted the school they were told there would be no refunds.

This isn’t the only case of institutions and bogus visa agents taking advantage of the current confusion on visa amnesties and extensions. Immigration police are sorting through a range of similar cases.

Police assure the victims that they are investigation the case.

SOURCE: Manager | Thai Visa

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Johnny Rambo

    October 31, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    Rip off and racism … Thats what you will always experience as a foreigner in Thailand. Tolerance is still an unknown principal in this intellectually backward country populated mostly by savages.

  2. Avatar

    John

    October 31, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Oh dear. Desperate folk who been sucked in and blown out .

  3. Avatar

    Robert Elliott

    October 31, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    The victims themselves are also to blame for desperately trying to stay in Thailand beyond the expiry of there legal visas. These so called tourists will probably cause visa rules to be tightened post pandemic.

    • Avatar

      Turtle's Head

      October 31, 2020 at 10:11 pm

      What a wanker you are!
      Wish you nothing but the worst!

      • Avatar

        Toby Andrews

        November 1, 2020 at 10:50 am

        Stick your head back in your shell Turtle.
        The first post I read from you and it is unjustified abuse.

        Lowlife!

    • Avatar

      Frank Leboeuf

      October 31, 2020 at 10:47 pm

      They are not tourists, articles specifies: “changing their Non-B into an ED-Visa, as a way of extending their time in Thailand.”
      They were people working here in Thailand, and who got caught in this mess. Tourists do not have non-B visas.
      Extending a non-B, work permit etc is difficult in the current circumstances, especially in country.
      They most likely had very good reasons to want to stay where they were working given the current circumstances, a lot more than tourists on short-stay visas anyway.
      Now is not the time to be blaming people Elliot.

      And honestly, it’s probably a good thing if visa rules are tightened post pandemic, or at least remodeled to be a little more pragmatic, but the Thai government will cross that bridge when they get to it.

    • Avatar

      preesy chepuce

      November 1, 2020 at 1:05 am

      Alas, I agree, they could have talked to an experienced agent/lawyer, and avoided all this rubbish. It all seems to come down to a simple question: can you change x to y; they didn’t check the answer, and handed over money. dumb.

      • Avatar

        barry

        November 1, 2020 at 2:21 pm

        It’s a little more complicated than that.

        Agents, like schools, were also so told by their immigration contacts to wait for governmental announcements allowing the onshore change of non-B to non-ED for informal schools, that were supposed to happen around mid-September.
        I know people in this very same situation who waited, but were refunded by the school/agent when the announcements failed to materialised.

        These are complex times. If an agent or school tells you that such a process will be possible, why not give it a try?

        Where it gets nasty here is the school not refunding the money. People I know had a money-back clause (that they half-believed in, but took the chance anyway), and luckily for them the money was refunded when regulations weren’t amended.

        These are complex times, and there is always a risk of being taken advantage of in such a situation. Luckily Thailand also has plenty of honest people around…

        • Avatar

          Phangan Visa

          November 3, 2020 at 3:16 pm

          I run a business and visa services business on Koh Phangan. AT NO TIME did the head of immigration in Samui, our contact, say it was possible to go straight to a one year Ed visa. It is/was possible to make a 3 month Ed visa first, then extend to longer.

          • Avatar

            barry

            November 4, 2020 at 4:09 pm

            Well it was definitely the case in Phuket, with Phuket immigration…
            – numerous schools mentioned this (Alpha, Target and more… contact them if you want), as did local agents.
            This was also openly discussed on the Thai visa forum, it’s neither a big secret or something I’m making up for fun.

          • Avatar

            barry

            November 4, 2020 at 4:12 pm

            Sorry I read your post a little too fast – I was responding on the the non-B to non-ED extension. Not sure about durations, my friends in Phuket were applying for a 6-month course.
            The issue turned out to be that the amendments that would have allowed to go from a a non-B to non-Ed in country (which is what the people mentioned in the article were doing) never materialized, so it was never an option, whether for 3 month or 12.

  4. Avatar

    gosport

    October 31, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    Good for both parties. This shows many westerners take the advantage of education Visa to stay in Thailand. Stop the visa gace period, deport illegitimates.

    • Avatar

      Turtle's Head

      October 31, 2020 at 10:12 pm

      You sound like a right bellend!
      The visa is a visa!
      It entitles stay in the country.
      For sure you’re an old saddle bag.

      • Avatar

        Phangan Visa

        November 3, 2020 at 3:14 pm

        A visa entitles one to entry into Thailand, the duration of stay stamp allows one to stay in the country. Herein lies the problemo.

    • Avatar

      preesy chepuce

      November 1, 2020 at 1:06 am

      Do give it a rest, you’re not from Gosport, you’re from China, and we all know it.

    • Avatar

      Jack

      November 1, 2020 at 11:21 am

      You are just boot licker. There is no harm being done by letting people stay where they want. T.f. is your damn problem? You just a bitter old person… stop licking boots, its bad for your health.

  5. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    October 31, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    Hope there is a follow up to this story. Everyone thinks the Western tourists has a money tree growing in their backyard.

  6. Avatar

    Mike Frenchie

    October 31, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    My God, most of the people stolen were likely on small budget!
    Time to reopen Bali and move out of Thailand…

    • Avatar

      barry

      October 31, 2020 at 10:51 pm

      Yes it’s sad – too bad Thailand didn’t introduce something like what Indonesia did, ie allowing all foreigners, regardless of status (long stay, short stay etc) to switch to a renewable long-stay visa, the B211 social budaya visa, for a fee.

      It’s sad that people, especially people who were working here on non-Bs (ie not tourists), have to resort to grey-area visas like the non-ED (or try to) to stay in the country. At least in Indonesia you don’t have to bend the rules to do so…

      Common sense, these are not normal times folks…

  7. Avatar

    lou

    October 31, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Why dont these guys going furst to the nearby immigration office to get clearance over any visa proposals ?

  8. Avatar

    Leo Z

    November 1, 2020 at 12:58 am

    With due respect to the tourists who lost their money, they should have been aware of a few things: a) Thai immigration has been cracking down on Education visas for some time. Basically now one has to be a legit student at a legit school to get them.
    b) Find out beforehand what you can change your non-B visa to. And apparently the Education visa is not one of them.
    c) This is all to extend their stay in Thailand. If they think they’ve had bad in Thailand, due to “strict” Thai immigration rules which automatically extended foreigner’s stay 7 times, no questions asked, they should look at other places. In China, for example, foreigners whose duration of stay was expiring got ONE 60-day extension beginning in March, which for the vast majority expired in May-June-July. They had to leave China, no matter the pandemic awaiting at their destinations, no matter the $2000 one-way tickets.

    • Avatar

      barry

      November 1, 2020 at 9:52 am

      “Find out beforehand what you can change your non-B visa to. And apparently the Education visa is not one of them”

      This is where it gets complicated – immigration offices in quite a few places told schools that there would be anouncements to allow such a process (non-B to non-ED from an informal school, onshore), that were expected for mid-September. I’ve heard this from people in Phuket as well for instance.
      Unfortunately these announcements never came – Where it becomes nasty is the school refusing to refund, people I know who tried that route in Phuket got their money back.

      It’s quite logical to want to avoid to travel during a pandemic, especially if you were working here and got caught in this mess, which means you might less of a life to go back to than say tourists who were vacationning here.

      China is one example, to which we can oppose, in ASEAN, the Indonesian approach to the same issue.

      Indonesian “visa amnesty” timeline went as follows:

      At the start of the pandemic they granted a free “emergency stay permit” to Chinese nationals.

      This “Emergency stay permit” was then extended to all foreigners in the country, regardless of their initial visa type.

      These “emergency stay permits”were finally revoked, but temporary amendment of regulations were instroduced to allow all foreigners (tourists + long stay visa holders) to apply in-country (onshore) for a long-stay tourist visa, with (currently unlimited) paying monthly extensions to extend their stay:

      There was an almost 2-month deadline to apply for this visa, either in person at immigrasi or through an agent.

      No need to bend the rules or invoke reasons to want to stay in the country.

      Digging around, China is probably one of the only country that chose to go down that route, most others countries, including ASEAN countries, made various accomodations to let foreigners stay put in this worldwide pandemic.

      I think Thailand did and is doing the right thing with the amnesty, but it would have been simpler to be clearer from the start and introduce some kind of paying, temporary “stay permit” early on.

      • Avatar

        Leo Z

        November 1, 2020 at 10:29 pm

        Thanks for the info. I agree, pretty much all ASEAN countries handled the extension process way better than China. In China it also served as an easy excuse to get many/most foreigners out, plus create an anti-foreigner sentiment among the masses by having the media report “imported COVID cases” as front-page news, EVERY single day. Even though it turned out that 98% of those “imported” cases were Chinese nationals going back to China. Nine months after they started the pandemic, they still report “imported cases” as the top story every day.

  9. Avatar

    Maag

    November 1, 2020 at 8:59 am

    The only legal way to obtain a visa or info , is the local immigration office , and not the soi’s corner minimart .
    Welcome in scam-i-land !.

    • Avatar

      Tony Grace

      November 2, 2020 at 8:19 am

      Same old STORY. IF IT’S SO GOOD AND SO EASY TO BE TRUE ITS GENERALY NOT TRUE.SO TO PUT IT IN CONTEX LIKE LAST YEARS SMOG YOUR MONEY IS GONE.

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