With high season here, army warns jet ski vendors against resuming scams

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About 100 Pattaya jet ski operators have been warned against defrauding and extorting tourists.
About 100 Pattaya jet ski operators have been warned against defrauding and extorting tourists.

PATTAYA – The military warned about 100 Pattaya jet ski operators against defrauding and extorting tourists through scams that made the city’s beachfront notorious worldwide.

National Council for Peace and Order representative Teerasak Jathupong and Pattaya municipal police chief Jirawat Sukontasap told the operators Dec. 22 that the years of headline-grabbing scams critically damaged Pattaya’s reputation.

While such scams have abated in the past year-plus, they warned the jet ski owners that the arrival of high season shouldn’t tempt them to return to their nefarious ways.

Until mid-2016, social media and internet discussion forums regularly posted stories of tourists who returned from their jet ski rides to find a gang of angry-looking Thai men accusing them of damaging the watercraft and demanding as much as 150,000 baht in compensation.

When tourists refused to pay, they were assaulted or threatened with bodily harm and police provided no help. In fact, many officers participated in the scam, taking a cut of the proceeds, a fact admitted by a former Pattaya police chief.

But the combination of the 2014 coup, the start of an expedited Tourist Court, and the implementation of mandatory jet ski registration and insurance coverage saw scams drop to historically low levels.

A Thai media survey in August this year found only one report of a scam, in Jomtien Beach. And vendors interviewed reported that, under Thailand’s military rule, police were reluctant to help the scammers and usually took the tourist’s side in any dispute.

Besides being told to provide honest service and not rip off tourists, the jet ski operators were briefed over new safety regulations and requirements that all passengers wear life jackets.