Scams in Thailand are nothing new, but they do get more inventive the more tourists and expats wise up to their deviousness.
From the 20 Baht “I take you anywhere you want to go” tuk tuk scam to the “Grand Palace is closed” and the rigged meter taxi scam, one must remain on guard.
The latest scam is the Thai bus scam, which is not to be confused with the traditional bus scam where items in bags stowed in the cabin or undercarriage disappear, usually during late night rest stops.
This latest scam is a little more daring, and is said to involve having your pockets picked after being drugged.
A few cases of this bus scam have been reported, but I for one am skeptical about how it takes place.
You see there are five possibilities being bound around. The first two in the list are pretty unlikely, but the last three all very possible.
- The victim is drugged by the free water handed out by the bus operator. The victim wakes feeling exhausted and unaware of where the time has gone. Hmm…Are the operators really serving laced bottles for unsuspecting foreigners? What if a Thai drank one by accident. I very much doubt this is true.
- The victim is knocked out with gas. Hmm..Surely the gas would affect everyone else on the bus. Unless you are travelling alone, which is very unlikely.
- The victim falls into a deep sleep, or takes a sleeping pill knocks him/herself out for hours. This is quite possible considering that many people take sleeping pills to get a good kip on long, jerky bus and train rides.
- The victim has one too many Singha beers prior to the journey and passes out drunk, only to wake up missing a few belongings. This is very possible, since most crimes of theft against foreigners happen when they are intoxicated.
- The victim accepts food or drink from another passenger and is drugged. Usually such crimes are carried out by a gang; a group of people working together to implement a multi-step scam. So it's feasible that a gang is riding the routes and waiting for unsuspecting foreigners travelling alone. Perhaps one member speaks English and befriends the traveller, sharing a drink or food. The traveller then passes out and, on arrival, or at a stop at a gas station, his her belongings are taken, either by the same member or another member of the gang.
But wait! It's Not Just Thailand
A quick Google reveals that the bus scam isn't exclusive to Thailand, although inside Thailand, looses of up to $2,000 have been reported.
So again; let's not blame this on Thailand, or its people. This is simply a case of there being bad people everywhere and, we as foreign travellers, must be stay alert when in potentially vulnerable situations.
7 Ways to Avoid This Bus Scam
- First off, don't travel with a large amount of money. Only ever carry what you can afford to lose.
- If you can afford to, fly instead of taking a bus.
- Don't get drunk before boarding the bus, or drink alcohol inside the bus.
- Don't take sleeping pills during the journey.
- Don't accept drink or food from other passengers.
- Take your own water and food supply for the journey.
- Padlock any bags or suitcases you store under the bus.
Got an experience you want to share? Do so in the comments section below.