PATONG: A German restaurant owner last week had a lucky escape from West African con artists who nearly tricked him out of 300,000 baht. Instead of getting away with the money, the two confidence tricksters ended up in the police cells, awaiting a date with the judge. Pol Col Kokiat Wongvorachart, superintendent of Kathu Police Station, told the Gazette that the two, Yao Aka, a 22-year-old man from Liberia, and a 26-year-old woman, Mahamadu Bubaka from the Ivory Coast, walked into the restaurant owned by their target. They told him they had no money to eat, so he treated them to dinner. After some conversation, the couple told him that a friend of theirs was in possession of 20,000 dollars (about 800,000 baht). The problem, they said, was that the money had been marked with black ink in preparation for destruction, and so was unusable. But, they explained, if they could buy the right chemicals, they could “wash” the cash. The problem was that they did not have the money for the chemicals, which were expensive and were available only through the US Embassy. They proposed that the restaurant owner lend them 300,000 baht, which they would return along with 30% of the “washed” cash – a further 240,000 baht or so. The restaurant owner consulted a friend who warned him that the couple’s proposal was a scam. The friend said that he had fallen for a similar trick in Bangkok, and had lost 850,000 baht. The restaurateur made an appointment with the couple the following evening. Also invited to the meeting were police officers, who arrested the two. Pol Col Kokiat said that this was the second time police had made arrests for this kind of confidence trick in Patong. The first time was two years ago when a Thai citizen was conned.
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