Robert Millard, from Sydney, Australia, has been living in Phuket for the last eight years. On April 13 last year around 9pm, he went to the ATM in Kamala, and withdrew B1,000 from his account. About 15 minutes later, he received five text messages from his bank Krungsri, confirming withdrawals totalling B90,000 had since been made from his account.
“The next day I went to the bank and the main bank here [in Kamala] was closed so I went to Patong, and they didn’t want to know about it basically. They told me the money came out from a Kasikornbank ATM in Chonburi.”
Five withdrawals were made from the Chonburi ATM in Pattaya: four of B20,000 and one of B10,000, before withdrawal fees meant Mr Millard’s daily withdrawal limit of B100,000 was reached.
Mr Millard said Kamala police were not so helpful – saying they would look into it and follow up with him, but Mr Millard has not heard anything since from them.
CCTV footage from the ATM in Chonburi was finally obtained about seven months later, and shows a man withdrawing money, but he is wearing a hat and so cannot be identified.
Krungsri bank staff told Mr Millard the fraud squad in Bangkok were looking into his case, but he has not heard anything more, despite visiting the bank every week to obtain updates.
Ten months later Mr Millard is no closer to getting his money back.
He’s not alone either – in the last month alone there have been reports of two German men being skimmed B400,000, and B625,000 respectively in Kamala.
“It’s horrible, I feel sick. Someone has ripped me off.
“I’ve got proof I was here. I thought when it came out it might have just been up the road, but it was 1,000 kilometres away.
“I’ve been racking my brain thinking how do they do this?”
Mr Millard said the ATM he used in Kamala didn’t have a plastic security cover over the ATM slot, designed to reduce the ability for skimming devices to be attached.
His next step is to get a lawyer involved, once he finds one that is affordable. He’s also keen to hear from anyone who might be able to help him with the case, and has since changed his pin number and reduced his maximum daily withdrawal limit to B20,000.
A Krungsri representative said they were still investigating the case.
Pol Maj Somneug Damkaew, of the Kamala police, said Mr Millard’s case was still under investigation, but will be transferred to Chonburi police who will look after the case.
Pol Maj Somneug said that police suspected there were skimmers working in the Kamala area.
“They are suspected to be foreigners, not Thais,” he said.
“We have our police teams doing special monitoring around ATM machines in Kamala, looking for suspicious activity – especially at night.”
He suggested ATM card users do two main things to avoid any fraud or theft.
The first, be aware of ATM machines that have a thin double cover on the card slot. The double layer is often stuck with temporary glue, so it is easy to move the slot cover.
The second, use your hand as a cover when entering your pin code, as small cameras can be set up by criminals to record when the person enters their pin.