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Phuket woman almost loses house to fake agents

PHUKET: A Phuket woman is urging others to beware of a scam artist posing as a real estate agent, who she says almost tricked her into playing a Chinese board game in return for her house and its chanote title.

Nattha Thepbamrung

Tuesday 29 January 2013, 05:10PM

This has been a relatively common scam in Thailand but has not made headlines in Phuket for several years.

Phuket resident Tanya Kitti said after she put up a sign advertising her house for sale she was approached by a fake real estate “agent” at her Pa Klok home last Wednesday (January 23).

The agent ended up taking her and her friend “Noi” to an apartment in Cherng Talay last Thursday (January 24).

I wanted to sell my house in Pa Klok for B8.5 million,” Mrs Tanya told The Phuket News.

An agent named “Cha” visited Mrs Tanya on Wednesday, with two accomplices – one, a short tanned man aged around 40 years old, and the other, a good-looking tall lady, aged in her late 40s.

They spoke on Wednesday and made an appointment for the following day to sign the contact.

“They came in an expensive car, and said their boss wanted to buy my house, but he is unable to come. So the lady said we should all go to her hotel,” Mrs Tanya said.

Mrs Tanya was asked to bring the chanote title of her house.

“I didn’t think anything of it, so I brought the real chanote with me, and went with them,” she said.

Mrs Tanya, her friend Noi, and the three “agents” headed to Cherng Talay. But when they arrived, they found themselves at an apartment, not at a hotel, which made the women feel uneasy.

They followed the “agents” to an empty room on the third floor.

“I felt there was something wrong,” said Mrs Tanya.

C and C Marine

Then the boss of the agents arrived – a Chinese-looking man aged around 70 years old, with a Chinese-Thai accent – who said he wanted to buy Mrs Tanya’s house for his wife.

“He arrived with a big bag of cash which he said was B10m, intended for the purchase of my house. The secretary opened the zip and showed a small amount of it to me,” Mrs Tanya said.

Mrs Tanya was then encouraged to play a round of the ancient Chinese tile game Mahjong and was explained the rules, by which time she was feeling very uneasy about the situation and her friend was scared.

Mrs Tanya and her friend were eventually let go without playing the game – if she had played, the agents would have ideally won the game and in turn “won” the valuable chanote title.

She believed she was let go because the agents thought she was familiar with the area, and also that she was operating a GPS on her phone and informing someone where she was.

“Luckily, the agent let us go. He said if I wanted to leave and did not care about the B10m then I could go, but he would meet me at a restaurant near my house to talk again.

“But he did not show up that day and he never contacted me again.”

However, Mrs Tanya said the agent still contacted another friend of hers many times to find out about other houses that were for sale in the area, and invited the friend several times to play the board game again.

Mrs Tanya spoke with her American retiree neighbour, who said he was also tricked by the agent “Cha”.

The American said Cha promised to help him sell his car, but then disappeared with it several months ago. The American told Mrs Tanya that based on her description it was the same man.

“I want to warn everyone who wants to sell their property to be careful – do not believe people easily. I was lucky that I did not lose everything, but some people may not be as lucky as me,” said Mrs Tanya.




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