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Phuket live wire: Yet more scams – be careful out there!

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket live wire: Yet more scams – be careful out there! | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Last February I wrote about a reader who placed an ad in the Gazette, and was strung along by a scammer. The scammer had a long, contrived story that ended with a demand that the person who placed the ad actually send money to the scammer, with threats from PayPal, Western Union and the FBI.

About a month ago, another reader placed an ad in the Gazette and was approached by a different scammer. This second reader graciously allowed me to step in, to see if I could figure out how this guy was operating, and perhaps put an end to it.

Here’s what happened.

The scammer used a Gmail account (paulweasley 01 @ gmail.com) to send a message asking for details about the boat our reader was trying to sell. The reader immediately smelled a rat, contacted me, and I wrote back to the scammer explaining that the reader was out of the country, but perhaps I could help.

The scammer and I went back and forth about the boat and the sales price, and then he said that he would have a shipper coming from the UK to pick the boat up. “I will be paying the PayPal charges from my account and I will be paying directly into your PayPal account without any delay, and I hope you have a PayPal account.”

It just so happens that I have a PayPal account, several of them, so I sent the scammer a dormant PayPal account, listing the shipping pickup address as that of the Kathu Police station. He shot right back: “I have just completed the Payment and am sure you have received the confirmation from PayPal regarding the Payment. You can check your PayPal e-mail for confirmation of payment. A total of US$25,982 was sent, US$24,728 for the item and the extra US$1,200 for my shipper’s charges,which you will be sending to the address below via western union (sic),” and he gave me a bogus name with a legitimate address in Devon, UK.

Of course, he hadn’t sent anything to anybody, much less PayPal, and a quick check of the account verified that he was spewing smoke. So far, everything had been done via Gmail, so there was no way to trace the guy.

Then I got a message from “Service-Intl.PayPal.Com (notification.verification@consultant.com) saying that, using the PayPal Service Option Secure Payment system, the money would be sent to my PayPal account as soon as I sent the US$1,200 to Western Union in Devon.

I checked the web site consultant.com and it’s pretty lame, a database of help wanted ads, with very few ads. So I ran “@consultant.com” through Google and bingo! The email address is being used in scams all over the world. Finally, I checked the email header – the technical stuff at the beginning of the message that you never see – and found that the email itself originated in Lagos, Nigeria.

Checking an email header is a rather arcane pastime, but it’s pretty easy to do. In Gmail, click the down arrow next to the message header and choose “Show Original”. The part at the beginning, before the message itself, is the header. You can do the same thing in Outlook with a free add-in called PocketKnife Peek. When you have the header, go to the IPTracker web site, paste in the header, and it will tell you where the message came from. (There are ways to trick the header, but they’re pretty difficult, and most scammers aren’t up to the challenge.)

In the end, the scammers sent me three email messages all claiming to be from PayPal (one invoking the name of the FBI), all of which originated in Lagos, Nigeria.

So I now had a couple of email addresses, a physical address in Devon, and an IP address in Nigeria. Even if the physical address was completely bogus, it would be trivial for Western Union to track money being sent to this specific person at that address, and bring in the police if the mule showed up to collect.

That’s what I thought. Here’s what I found.

I checked the Western Union web site. They have acres of information about scams. But they don’t have an email address listed: you have to call them (as if I could read out an email header over the phone). It looks to me like Western Union doesn’t really care. Or they’re so overwhelmed with scams they can’t keep up.

So I went to the PayPal web site, and it was like a breath of fresh air. Lots of warnings, with the PayPal notification email address prominently available. I sent PayPal a copy of the message from Nigeria, header and all. I got a nice reply, “Thanks for forwarding that suspicious-looking email. You’re right – it was a phishing attempt, and we’re working on stopping the fraud. By reporting the problem, you’ve made a difference!”

I wrote back to them, to explain it wasn’t a phishing attempt, it was a scam attempt, and enclosed a copy of a different message. In reply, I got the exact same message I received the first time. In all, I mailed PayPal three times, and I doubt that a human being ever read any of the messages.

So I tracked down the Internet Service Provider that “owns” the IP address the scammer was using: MTN Nigeria. The people there were helpful, but the message is disheartening: “all of our 3G network subscribers now sit behind a small number of IP addresses. This is done via a technology called Network Address Translation (NAT). In essence it means that one million subscribers may appear to the outside world as one subscriber, since they are all using the same IP address.”

And without a court order, MTN Nigeria couldn’t trace down the source of the messages. They did, however, forward my complaint to the local police. I won’t hold my breath.

It isn’t just the Phuket Gazette. This is a variant on the Nigerian “419” scam that’s hit Craigslist and just about every online advertiser worldwide. It’s so big that some people claim 419 scams are the second largest industry in Nigeria. No joke. Billions of dollars.

Last week I received a message from another reader who’s been approached by someone who claims to be interested in buying their condo. The buyer is in the UK, and is willing to buy the condo in Phuket sight unseen. The scammer directed our reader to go to a specific site on www.amropro.com and fill out a banking form, so ABN-AMRO could transfer the money to them. If you go to amropro.com, you’ll see a site that looks like an ABN-AMRO Premier Services location.

But appearances can be deceiving, eh? A quick check on the Network Solutions lookup page verified that the site amropro.com is registered to a Mr Omoh Asekome in… wait for it… Lagos, Nigeria, with domain servers hihostnow.com.ng, also in Nigeria.

I’ve notified ABN-AMRO, although it’s unlikely they’ll be able to take the site down, unless they have a branch office in Nigeria. I’ve also contacted the scammer, who now says he’s interested in buying my townhouse in Patong.

Let’s see what happens.

Seth Bareiss holds computer sessions on every-other Wednesday afternoon, from 1 to 3pm. If you have a Windows problem that needs to be solved, drop by one of Seth’s free afternoon sessions, or come to one of our free Sunday morning roundtables at Sandwich Shoppe Chalong. Details in the Events Calendar. Sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and Khun Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes.

Live Wire is Phuket Gazette columnist Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things internet in Phuket. Shoot him mail at Woody@KhunWoody.com, follow him on Twitter @PhuketLiveWire, or “like” his page at — Woody Leonhard

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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