The Falang Timeshare Scam in Thailand
I encountered this timeshare scam on my one and only visit to Phuket while walking down a quiet soi one morning heading to Patong beach. As you can imagine with all the time I’ve spent in Thailand and only going to Phuket once, I’m not a big fan of the place and didn’t really find my time there overly enjoyable over the 6 days I was there.
On this particular day, a a young western guy in his early 20’s riding a scooter pulls up in front of me and wants to start chatting. I’m immediately on my guard, but not needing to be anywhere specific, I decided to hear him out. I won’t go into the entire script but basically imagine an invitation to receive X benefits (I think it was some promise of a buffet lunch) for simply attending a 20 minute presentation (no obligations of course) about time share accommodation in Phuket.
The Feeling of Being a Winner!
But wait, there was more (when isn’t there you ask!). The guy said they were giving away door prizes to lucky winners who attended the seminar with a winning scratch-it card. He then proceed to pull a card out of his waist bag showing me the unused card and quickly volunteered to scratch it for me with coin at the ready. Scratching the card in front of me, unfortunately I wasn’t a winner. Disappointed but as a favour, he kindly offered to scratch a second card for me but unfortunately again I wasn’t a winner. Well lets say the guy was more upset over it then I was and after a quick chat saying how I seemed to be such a nice guy etc he really wanted to try again for me – third time a charm and all I guess.
Third Time’s a Charm as They Say!
Third scratch-it card comes out and same routine of scratching in front of me so I could see, all of a sudden I was a WINNER!! Now my newly found comrade in joy was over the moon and explained how the last time anyone won this prize (can’t even remember what it was now) was two weeks ago. The guy could have easily been cast in any number of B grade movies and somewhat of a waste spending his time with this timeshare scam. He then offered to take me to this hotel where the seminar was to save me the taxi fare. I politely declined the invitation telling him I was meeting friends in 10 minutes and running a little late as it was. While he persisted for a little longer to take me there, he gave me the scratch-it card and the address for this place and reinforcing the free benefits and prize would easily offset sitting through the 20 minute seminar. I told him I would attend and may even bring my friends with me if they were interested. Feeling comforted with that and me saying I really needed to get going, he seemed confident he had just recruited an attendee to the seminar and jumped on his scooter to continue his trawl through the soi’s finding his next victim.
Sleight of Hand – A fundamental Skill
Or so he may have thought! While going along with his sales pitch, he wasn’t aware that I was watching every move and action he made. Each time he pulled out a scratch-it card, I watched on observantly. On the third try, while trying to casually distract my attention, he pulled out the scratch-it card from a different, but next to section of the previous two cards. Before he even started to scratch the card while trying to build up my anticipation of being a winner, I was fairly confident that my luck was about to suddenly change.
The guy had obviously done this routine a few times as his presentation was well rehearsed and the almost seamless selection of the winning scratch-it card was to his credit. To be honest, I quite enjoyed the experience of watching this routine play out and learning how the scam is constructed (even though its a dog act to prey on people with these schemes). I didn’t enjoy it enough however to actually waste my time going to the seminar which would inevitably have turned out being a lot longer than 20 minutes. I simply, and most correctly assumed, it would be like any other high pressure slick sales tactic promising some insane time limited offer for a too good to be true deal and continued on my way to Patong beach.
Such a Dog Act!
What really annoys me is this guy (and anyone else like him) was his full awareness of what he was doing and that the ultimate goal was to have unsuspecting people get involved with a timeshare scam. As I said before, a real dog act by this guy to prey on other people (or to be part of the timeshare scam at the least) to simply fund his own lifestyle. Really… if you want to travel in Thailand, find more legitimate means to fund your travels or simply wait until you have enough money for your time in Thailand. Once your money has run out, its time to go back home instead of following this guy’s choice in trying to extend his time in Thailand by any means.