Thousands of tourists every year get caught in gem scams in Thailand. Whether it’s the tuk-tuk driver that takes them to his ‘brother’s’ gem shop, or just buying gems on a market stall or unlicensed gem shop, gem scams in Thailand abound. If you’ve been the target of a gem scam in Thailand though, there are some ways you can get your money back. From going to the tourist police to contacting your credit card company, it is possible to get a full refund of the money you spent.
Contact Your Credit Card Company – In many cases, if you paid by credit card and contact your credit card company as soon as you realize you’ve been scammed, you can file a report and your credit card company will take the cost of the gems off your card while investigating. If it’s found you’re in the right and the gem seller is in the wrong, you’ll likely get your money back.
However, you will need to have something in writing from the gem dealer about the value of the gem, the weight and the clarity (information given to you by the dealer orally doesn’t count as it can’t be proven). You’ll also have to get the gems valued by a licensed gem dealer to be able to prove you were defrauded.
Contact the Thai Tourist Police – The Thai Tourist Police are there to help tourists in Thailand and they will step in if you feel you were defrauded. In this case too, you should have proof. However, just a visit back to the store with the Thai Tourist Police along with you can go a long way to making a scamming gem dealer give back your money. The police officer will also often negotiate on your behalf so, even if you don’t get a full refund, you could get a partial refund and an honest evaluation. Call the Thai Tourist Police at 1155.
Contact the Thai Gem and Jewelry Trader Association – If you think you’ve been scammed, the Thai Gem and Jewelry Trader Association has also been known to help victim’s of gem scams in Thailand as they don’t want their association’s good reputation to be damaged.
If you have a receipt from the dealer that shows the false value, the Association will recommend a fully licensed appraiser in Thailand where you can take the gems to be sure of their value. If the appraiser certifies the value, weight or clarity of the gems is false, you can file charges using the appraiser’s guarantee through most Thai law firms. You must still have the gems with you in Thailand though, for you to be able to do this. Call them at 02-6301390-7.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) – As a last resort, the Tourism Authority of Thailand can also help you get a refund from a fraudulent gem sale. Thailand’s reputation with tourists is extremely important to the country as Thailand is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. The TAT takes Thailand’s reputation seriously and, if the fraudulent gem dealer can still be found, they will often negotiate with them to get your money back. Call them at 02 250 5500.
There are many legitimate gem dealers in Thailand. The best way to make sure you aren’t the victim of a gem scam in Thailand is to only purchase gems from a licensed dealer (the Thai Gem and Jewelry Trader Association can tell you if a dealer is legitimate or not).
Also, make sure before you purchase the gems you have the purchase price, the value, the clarity and the weight of the gems written down in Thai and English on a receipt (in Thailand, if things are not written in Thai, the paperwork is often not classified as ‘legal’.). Then, if you do discover you’ve been scammed, you have the paperwork to prove it.