Thai Life


"Trust me, I'm a Farang!"

Along came a spider...

Every now and again there's a tale that shocks even myself. Even as a jaded, world-wearied kind of guy that I am it still is startling that there are some nasty, snake-in-the-grass-types out there that will try and take you for every red cent you've got if you give them half a chance.

Now its pretty much common knowledge that most expat and tourist alike are aware that a majority of the thai population expect the white foreigner to have riches. What may not be apparent is that there are a sizeable number of white foreigners whom are out to con and cheat fellow white foreigners. Now these Snakes In the Grass (SIGs) or Farang Con Artists (FCAs) as they are often known lurk in all corners of the world and can be a thorn in side of both tourist and expat alike. However, Thailand which has a unique effect of attracting many to its shored unfortunately has the negative aspect of the low-life element coming along also. Among them are the Farang Con Artists which seem to flourish and multiply. Now where you have the relatively minor dual pricing scam, the SIG really can be at the extreme end of the scale. There really is no typical SIG and for this reason, they are hard to spot. It may be that for a number of reasons they become Farang Con Artists. One is that they have married in haste, been ripped off themselves and take revenge on anybody they feel like. Or they have married and actually form an con artist 'alliance' with their wife!

A common SIG is one whom has wasted all their money and are so desperately to stay in Thailand they'll attempt to con and cheat fellow expat / tourists.

Now a question you have to ask yourself when confronted by someone purporting to have an amazing money spinning idea is a number of things. 'The Truth', as the late Byron said, 'Is stranger than fiction' and this is no stranger than out in Thailand.
"Trust me, I'm a farang!" Types are typically the ones that should be given a wide berth. You see a Farang Con Artists greatest weapon is his ability to come across as the friendly and alluring type. It is a recognised technique of gaining trust and rapport with somebody. Instinctively if something is as un-hostile and un-sinister as possible you are unlikely to suspect it of being up to no good. Conversely this is a tactic some Farang Con Artists will use to exploit and beguile the unwary.
Now the climate of Thailand and the fact your a stranger in what is a strange land adds to most peoples sociability, now throw in alcohol and the time-honoured male-pursuit of women and you have a veritable hunting ground for Farang Con Artists. It is no wise thing to be trusting someone after 5 minutes of conversation. Yes, every ones usually happy and the drink is flowing but just stop yourself and think of the environment as a potential spiders web, with the every spider asleep and the web harmless, until the spiders wake up start to see whats near the web...
That is not to say that this is a complete danger zone though, there are many good natured farang expats out there and some are positively princes-amongst-men along with other gregarious types. However be cautious with people until you get to know them and listen to other folks recommendations. What you have to ask yourself is 'Would I trust this guy?" Or a better still is "If I was back home would I even be doing this?" If the answer (and be honest with yourself) is 'No' then quite simply make your excuses (or if you feel 'handy' tell them where to go!) and walk away.
Methods of the Farang Con Artist trying to cheat and con typically include:

House / Land for land via a fictitious company.
Investment in a fictitious company or business.
Payment of business leases on gratis then failing to pay
Counterfeit goods sales
Farang beggars feigning poverty

These are just a few examples. It may be that you know of a SIG or have heard of one operating in your area. There are a few things you can do, one way is to inform the tourist police or ordinary police of them. It may not work however unless money will result from the arrest, either from the SIG or the reporter of the 'criminal.' Remember that if it is nighttime the police may not be keen to 'work!'
Another way is to 'Name and Shame'. Tell all who you trust and know, fellow expats about the character. If its one thing that hits these pond slime the most its a smear campaign. Be careful though as Farang Con Artists can be a dubious lot and may try and cause trouble for you. The key is to be as subtle and 'nameless' as possible, unless you have plenty of connections and money to alleviate any problems that may arise.
Contact On The Road Thailand if you have been the victim of and / or know of a FCA or SIG. We guarantee confidentiality and will aggressively investigate all reports we receive.

Be careful out there people, yes the farang 'monsters' do exist but as long as you're careful and look before you leap there's little they can do to harm (most of the time!).

Editor - Only recently OTRT has been receiving reports of a real nasty piece of work who is at work in Bangkok and the south of Thailand. Reports are comprehensive and suggest that this particular guy is 'talented' at being a SIG. As per OTRT Name and Shame policy we have contacted the potential SIG to await his 'response'. A Name and Shame report detailing and displaying all known information and contact information will be published. It can be viewed on the Name and Shame section of this website.

Farang columnist Johnny BThis section is hosted by our resident columnist Johnny B. who has been living in Thailand for seven years now and currently is based out of Bangkok.

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