Fraud complaints drop since opening of jet ski dispute centers


In the three months since Pattaya opened three “jet ski dispute assistance centers”, complaints about fraud and extortion have dropped noticeably, an officer manning the Pattaya Beach booth said.

Kamolthip Woraphan, who was manning the booth opposite the Pattaya Police Station on Jan. 5, said there has been an obvious drop in complaints about jet ski vendors fabricating damage and extorting tourists – sometimes under threat of violence – out of tens of thousands of baht for bogus compensation payments.

Kamolthip Woraphan mans the jet ski dispute assistance center opposite the Pattaya Police Station.

At the start of the new year, there had not been complaints for several days, Kamolthip said.

Jet ski resolution centers were opened in Pattaya, Jomtien and Koh Larn in late October in an attempt to bring rampant extortion scams under control. The centers encourage vendors to register their watercraft and obtain insurance, while offering mediation services for people facing scams.

The goal is to have all problems handled at the centers, instead of taking matters to police, which have had a checkered record in resolving the scams.

Kamolthip speculated two factors may be behind the reduction in incidents: Jet ski vendors were now cooperating with authorities and not taking advantage of tourists as they once did, or, some third-party vendor may have stepped in to negotiate a compromise without getting authorities involved.

In either case, however, the officer admitted that not all those renting jet skis know about the resolution booths and that more needs to be done to promote their existence.

The three dispute centers are located on Soi 9, near the Pattaya Police Station, Jomtien Soi 5 near the Surf Kitchen restaurant, and at the Koh Larn district office. They are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

She warned tourist opting to rent the watercraft to carefully read the rental contact before signing, as it outlined the insurance coverage and protection afforded. She said the renter also is allowed to take photos of the jet ski, although doing so in the past often was met with angry objections by the vehicle owners.

Kamolthip said a typical settlement for damage costs tourists about 1,000-2,000 baht through the dispute center, versus 10,000 or more if they try to settle independently with vendors.

The center also will determine if the case requires prosecution under civil or criminal laws. Officers manning the booths are educated on relevant laws, she said.