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Pattaya Jet Ski Scam
The Pattaya Jet Ski Scam has been operating unchecked for a number of years. The basic scam remains unchanged but of late has become just a little bit more sophisticated. I can report first hand on exactly how it works because I have seen it done, time and again, day after day.
A year or so ago I spent a good portion of each day sitting reading and writing on Pattaya Beach. It is a great place. Cool, comfortable and shaded. Just about anything you could ever possibly want will be brought to your chair. I would usually drink the juice of young green coconut and feast on freshly grilled prawns and squid dipped in fiery chilli sauce. I would people watch too, just about my favourite occupation, and watch the Jet Ski Scam go into operation.
Jet Ski in Action
The Jet Ski Mafia
Favourites for the scam would appear to be young boisterous men of any nationality and then Indians and Arabs. Excited by the prospect of bouncing across the waves these people hire the Jet Ski, receive basic instruction and off they go. They rarely check the machine before they go. Fueled by adrenaline the customer will frequently lose track of time and have to be called back in.
The Jet Ski operator will then carefully examine the machine and find a hole in the fibreglass. Usually this is on the underside of the Jet Ski. It could easily really happen. Anyone could hit a piece of flotsam whilst bouncing around on the waves.
The Jet Ski operator points the damage out to the customer and tells them that they will have to take the machine out of operation for several days. He is going to lose X thousand Thai Baht as a result. Believe it or not there are some who pay up straight away and without question. Most will argue.
The Jet Ski operator never really expects to get what he first asks for but he is an expert at haggling. It is quite a frightening situation. Tempers rise and other members of the Jet Ski mafia appear. There is strength in numbers.
Sooner or later someone will suggest contacting the police. The customer does not speak Thai, nor do they know the police telephone number. The Jet Ski operator makes a call and fairly quickly a policeman turns up. The prospect of some time in a Thai Jail enters into the equation. The policeman is a reasonable man. He listens to both sides of the argument and suggests a lower but still exhorbitant some of money. The customer by this time is in a panic but slightly pleased with himself. He believes he has 'won' and just wants to get away. The policeman accompanies him to the ATM. Cash is withdrawn and handed over.
The Scam gets Sophisticated
The real tragedy of this scam is that everyone who lives in Pattaya knows that it goes on and yet nobody does anything about it. There is big money being made by a small number of corrupt and very dangerous people. It is unsafe to make too much of a fuss about it.
Every year without fail the newspapers will cover the story. Letters will be written, Questions will be asked and then all will be forgotten once again.
It was recently reported that the scam has taken on a greater degree of sophistication. The Jet Ski operator will take a sneaky photo of his clients next to the Jet Ski just before they set out. The Jet Ski will have clear damage. Assuming his clients have not noticed he is very pleased when they set out. Before they are ten minutes into their enjoyment the photo will have been doctored to remove the damage. When they return he has photographic evidence to prove the damage his customers have done. It wasn't there when they set out. Who is going to argue. A photograph never lies. Does it?