The money was taken from his account on January 5, 6 and 7 this year – B200,000 each day, his account’s daily withdrawal limit. Bank records show the money was taken in around 30 different transactions, at three different ATMs on Koh Samui, while Mr Schmidt was in Phuket.
The semi-retired German national has long been a regular visitor to Phuket, and last year decided to live in Phuket for eight months of the year.
When he went to an ATM in Patong on January 7, there was only B125 left in his account – the thieves had drained his account to the dregs.
“I was speechless, I just about had a heart attack,” Mr Schmidt said. “I thought there was something wrong, that there must have been a mistake.”
He spoke to police in Kamala and Patong, and contacted staff at Kasikornbank, who gave him a print-out of the details of the transactions – made every few minutes over three days.
Police were helpful, he said, and provided still camera footage from outside the Koh Samui ATMs in question, but a mix-up meant footage from the wrong dates was sent. Mr Schmidt is still waiting for the correct camera footage.
A representative from Kamala police said he would send the reports to Koh Samui police, who would take control of the case because it happened in their area.
“When I first went there [to Kasikornbank] they told me I took the money.
“I want to know what to do now. At the end of the month I’m going to Bangkok to visit the [Kasikornbank] head office and say ‘What’s going on?’. [Kasikornbank] haven’t done anything for four months, even though I got the police report to them two or three days later.
“It’s their fault, they gave me a card that’s not safe.”
Mr Schmidt didn’t usually have a large amount of money stored in his account, he said, but he recently transferred money to it from his German account because he planned to buy a car in Bangkok.
In hindsight, Mr Schmidt recalls a suspicious incident at an ATM in Patong he believes is connected to the fraud.
On December 17, he put his ATM card into a machine in Patong, and it didn’t recognise his pin. A person came up behind him and offered to help, but Mr Schmidt told him to go away. When he tried a second time, the pin code was accepted, and he was able to withdrawal his money.
“I’m angry; it’s a lot of money,” he said.
Repeated attempts by The Phuket News to reach the assistant vice president of the Patong branch of Kasikornbank, Greepon Limpattarajaroen, as well as staff in the Bangkok office were unsuccessful.
The Kasikornbank website says about skimming, in part, “For any losses suffered, practices adhered to by all commercial banks will be applied for losses resulting from skimmers installed at any ATM. [If] the losses are deemed as not resulting from the mistake or negligence of cardholders, card-issuing banks will be responsible for the losses.”
Precisely what “responsible” means is not clear. The bank’s call centre told The Phuket News that skimming cases, and compensation, are handled on a “case by case” basis.