BANGKOK – A Chinese woman has accused an apartment broker in Bangkok of duping her into paying a fine of 110,000 baht for an immigration offence that turned out to be bogus.
Tian Xin, 31, accompanied by Pol Sgt Soragarn Sangsai of the Tourist Police Bureau, filed a complaint with Bang Rak police on Friday against Pawinee Khrainoonsing.
The Chinese woman, who is studying at a university in Bangkok, told police that she had rented an apartment from the owner through Ms Pawinee, 31, who acted as a broker.
Ms Tian said she signed a two-year rent contract and was asked to pay a deposit to Ms Pawinee. However, she later had a problem with the owner and the contract was cancelled.
When she asked for the return of her deposit, Ms Pawinee could not return it as the woman did not give the money to the owner, the Chinese woman told the Bangkok Post.
Shortly afterward, Ms Pawinee sent her a message with an “official” letter via the Line chat application. The broker said the letter was sent by the Immigration Bureau asking her to pay a fine of 110,000 baht for violating the immigration law regarding her stay in the country.
Ms Tian said she paid the money to Ms Paniwee out of fear that she might be investigated by immigration police.
When a Thai friend told her that the letter was not issued by the Immigration Bureau as claimed, she then sought help from the tourist police.
The case reportedly was not the first of its kind involving Ms Pawinee. Chinese national Liu Chun Hu, 40, earlier filed a complaint accusing the broker of swindling him out of 960,000 baht for a condominium unit purchase. After the payment was made, the woman fled, Thai media reported.
In May of last year two Thai men were arrested for allegedly duping a Chinese woman of over Bt600,000 (S$25,245) in a romance scam.
Wong Mei, 59, said that after talking with him for a month, she was coerced into transferring him Bt605,600 with a promise that she could meet him in Bangkok.
In September a security guard at Don Mueang airport came under fire after a video clip showing him trying to hit a Chinese tourist in the face at the airport went viral on Chinese Social Media and Facebook.
The clip showed the guard and the Chinese man quarrelling before the guard shoved him and raised a hand, looking like he was about to punch him in the face. The Chinese man dodged in time before another security officer intervened.
In November a group of Chinese tourists claimed they were scammed out of 2,000 baht after being fined for littering in Pattaya by a man who claimed he was a police officer.
The ‘officer’ told them that the fine for littering was 2,000 baht and demanded payment on the spot.
The group admitted to littering and paid the man who left with the cash.
While the rest of Asia-Pacific countries, mainly Japan, Korea and Vietnam, expect strong growth in Chinese tourist arrivals Thailand has been struggling to bring back Chinese tourists.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is launching security measures to restore confidence among Chinese tourists, while the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) is urging the government to take serious action to win back the Chinese market such as issuing multiple-entry visas or waiving the visa fee for Chinese tourists.