Fraudsters are targeting British nationals in Thailand who want to renew their passports amid delays by striking government workers in UK. Adverts shown to Pattaya Mail, coming from scam websites such as UK-renewpassport.net, or emails from similar-named sources, promise to bypass the three months-plus waiting period by cash transfer using international money transfer systems such as Western Union.
The scams are a variation of the ones already identified by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) whereby many Brits based in UK have been fooled into believing that bargain-basement air tickets and unbelievably cheap foreign holidays were also on offer. The Thai version appears to target expat Brits who specifically want to renew their passports quickly rather than book a vacation or get an airticket.
The British foreign office website confirms that a British national in Thailand wishing a passport must deal only with the authorized application centers in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. The full cost of an adult renewal at present is GBP127.51 (34 pages) and GBP138.51 (50 pages) inclusive of courier fees. 10-year passports are issued in UK, but local staff in Thailand will check the required paperwork before transfer and return original documentation to the applicant.
There is no fast-track service available overseas, although desperate Brits have been known to travel to UK specifically to take advantage of speedier alternatives. It is not illegal to use a representative or agency to submit a passport application in Thailand, but obviously applicants must be selective in whom they trust. CTSI commented, “This scam has arisen as people try to bypass the inevitable delays, but paying money online for special favors is a recipe for disaster.”