Runaway groom

TAK: Many are the tales of the foreign man who comes to Thailand, falls in love with a Thai woman and ends up destitute and deserted. But according to an August 4 report, an elderly American man has turned the tables by sweet-talking his way into the lives of at least two Thai women with talk of riches and marriage – and then ripping them off and disappearing just before the wedding day. A businesswoman in picturesque Mae Sod District identified only as Miss Gay (not her real name), 38, said she met an American soldier named William, 58, around five months ago as he was passing through the border town on his way to get a new visa in Burma. She said the man asked her to help him find a place to stay near hers. She did, and not long after he was appearing at her door every day with flowers and taking her out for meals. “We got very close. He said he worried about me all the time and after three months he asked me to marry him,” she said. “He called my mother to ask for permission, asking if four or five million baht would be enough for the bride price. He said he wanted to settle down with me in Mae Sod. Money would be no problem, he told me, once he completed the sale of his 600-million-baht home in America,” she said. “He told me he wouldn’t let me work after we were married, so I began selling off all the merchandise in my shop. Then he moved into my place. Everything was going well and we were living together as husband and wife. We had the wedding all planned for August 14. The invitations were already printed up and my family told the whole village and arranged everything,” she added. “On the morning of August 1, I was taking a shower. William was still in the bedroom sleeping – or so I thought. But when I tried to open the bedroom door I found it was locked from the inside. I peered though a window and could see that all his bags were gone. When I realized he had really disappeared, I forced open the door to find he had been through all my clothes and my five bahtweight gold necklace was gone,” she said. K. Gay said she reported the incident to the police and the media as a way of warning other Thai women about falling for the charms of this particular flim-flam man. The only trace the elusive Mr William left behind was the business card of another foreigner living in the faraway province of Nakhon Phanom. When called, the man told her that a man matching William’s description had fleeced a 44-year-old woman in that province as well, using the exact same method. When contacted by a reporter, the woman said it was her own fault for having allowed herself to be taken in. “I admit I was careless and overly interested in his money, because I thought all foreigners were rich. I just hope this serves as a warning to other women who might be cheated by foreign men,” she said.

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