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More than 100 foreigners in Phuket swindled by visa agency

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Photo via ชมรมช่วยเหลือเหยื่ออาชญากรรม

More than 100 foreigners in Phuket enlisted the help of a non-profit organization and a class action lawyer after they were swindled out of thousands of baht by visa agents.

Asia Titan Group ATG, and Phuket Siam Corporation Service, are 2 of the visa agencies named by foreigners who were lured into handing over cash for a visa extension. The travellers later found out the agencies had scarpered with the money and their status showed they had overstayed their welcome.

The non-profit organisation, Help Crime Victim Club, on Sunday poked fun at the Phuket police on its Facebook page for its lack of action in trying to catch the crooks.

“Where were Phuket police? The foreign victims filed complaints, but you just ignored them. You will never move your ass if the media didn’t cover it, right?”

The Help Crime Victim Club page revealed that the agency offered an extending visa service for foreigners in Phuket. They kept the passports of those foreigners and collected fees in advance. The page added that some foreigners asked for their passports back after waiting for 3 months only to discover that the agency didn’t process their visas. Furthermore, some travellers didn’t even get their passports returned because agency staff had absconded.

The Help Crime Victim Club reported that the status of all foreigners in the group showed they had overstayed. The tourists who overstayed by less than 90 days were lucky and could still process a visa extension by themselves. But there were some foreigners who had overstayed the 90 days. They admitted they are scared to report to the police.

The victims met yesterday and launched a class-action lawsuit against the fraudulent visa agencies. During the meeting, they appointed a lawyer to represent them, where they discovered they weren’t the only foreigners being scammed. Other victims had reported similar stories about visa scams from around Thailand.

The Superintendent of Mueng Phuket Police Station, Sarawut Chooprasit, informed the media yesterday that they were investigating the case. He added there was more than one visa agency involved in the case and if evidence proved the agencies intentionally swindled money from foreigners, those agencies would be charged with the Offences of Cheating Fraud.

Sarawut insisted foreigners follow up visa extensions themselves and those who had been in the country less than 90 days to go to the immigration office.

The Director of the Phuket Immigration Office, Thanes Sookchai, urged victims to report their status to the officers. Thanes insisted that those who overstayed wouldn’t be arrested. The officers would deal with them one by one according to their problems.

Thanes added that people affected by the defrauded agencies could contact the officers via phone at 086-4077-763 and 076-211905, press 110.

The Thaiger has spoken to 4 of the alleged victims but none of them will go on record with their stories. If anyone is prepared to go on record and share their story they can send an email HERE.

SOURCE: Ban Mueng | ชมรมช่วยเหลือเหยื่ออาชญากรรม

 

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Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger focusing on Thai news and what's happening in Thailand. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp.

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