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Thai authorities crack down on Suvarnabhumi Airport scams

28 Jul 2009

Authorities at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport are getting tough with illegal taxi operators and unlicensed guides, who have for some time been preying on unsuspecting tourists.

The move came after Thailand’s transport minister Sohpon Zarun recently inspected the premises and ordered the Airports of Thailand (AOT) to step up measures to prevent these extortion syndicates. Other government agencies such as the Land Transport Department and Special Operations Division, Samut Prakan provincial police and tourist police, have been enlisted in the effort to eradicate the “black-license taxis” and guides.

Allegations from travellers of incidents in the airport’s duty-free shops have also been surfacing. They say they were accused of shoplifting and forced into paying large “fines” to avoid lengthy incarceration. A July 20 report by the BBC described the ordeal of Stephen Ingram and Xi Lin, two IT experts from Cambridge in the UK, as they were about to board their flight to London on April 25 this year.

The couple said that while browsing in a duty-free shop, security guards approached them saying Ms Lin had been observed slipping a wallet into her bag. Examination of both of them did not produce the missing item. They then outlined what they described as “a harrowing and stressful experience” negotiating with local law enforcers for their release.

The British Embassy is said to have warned their nationals passing through Suvarnabhumi Airport to take care not to move items around in the duty-free shopping area before paying for them, lest a similar incident happen to them.

Joshua Tan and Margie T Logarta

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