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Beginnings of a scam on Patong beach: Discovery of the Damage

Phuket Jet-Ski Scammers 'Rip Off 150,000 Baht'

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
TOURISTS were scammed of 150,000 baht in a jet-ski extortion last week - latest in a long line of rip-offs on Phuket that extended back 10 years, a meeting between honorary consuls and Phuket's Governor heard yesterday.

''Please, please tell us. Can you stop this problem or not?'' Australia's honorary consul, Larry Cunningham asked Governor Tri Augkaradacha.

''Just last week, a group of French tourists were extorted out of 150,000 baht at Laem Sing beach. I did not even know that jet-skis were allowed at Laem Sing and Surin beaches.''

Mr Cunningham said the group were asked for the sum to replace a jet-ski engine. One of them telephoned Yamaha, and discovered the cost of a new engine was 33,000 baht. But in the end, the tourists were so intimidated that they handed over 150,000 baht, Mr Cunningham said.

''Krabi bans jet-skis,'' he added. ''They are not allowed in Krabi. ''The insurance answer to the problem has gone to the wind. We have also had since the last honorary consuls meeting two people killed riding a jet-ski.

''Is this the publicity we want for Phuket?'' Mr Cunningham said a recent article on the front page of an Australian newspaper telling of jet-ski scams brought 150 responses online within hours, many of the comments from people who had been ripped off on Phuket.

''The Australian Ambassador has requested to come to the next consuls' meeting and I know he will ask me, as he always does: 'What's happening with the jet-skis?'

''Are the jet-ski operators untouchable? Do they have people of dark influence to help them? Why is it that after 10 years, we still have this problem?''

Phuripat Theerakulpisut, Chief of Phuket's Marine Office 5, said that the death of the honeymoon couple on a jet-ski was a terrible accident that could not have been avoided.

''Nowadays we can control the 219 jet-skis that are registered on Phuket,'' he said. But he added that others who registered in other provinces had also come to Phuket and avoided insurance.

Khun Phuripat said that he had asked marine offices in all other provinces to reject these applications, and that was now being done.

''If jet-skis do not have insurance, we will not licence them,'' he said. ''We are always trying to find a solution.''

Mr Cunningham said that extortion was a separate issue, and that a more obvious police presence was required right on Patong beach to prevent further rip-offs.

Khun Phuripat said that jet-skis were allowed in just five zones on Phuket - Patong, Kamala, Kata, Karon and Bang Tao. But other jet-ski operators who had registered outside Phuket were now operating beyond those zones.

''I will try to make the jet-ski problem disappear from Phuket,'' Khun Phuripat told the meeting.

Phuket Police Commander Major General Pekad Tantipong said that police could only become involved after there had been an incident, so it was often difficult to sort out the rights and wrongs.

However, he added there had been at least eight cases recently where Patong police had mediated a settlement.

The honorary consuls meet every three months with Governor Tri and island police and business leaders. Jet-ski scams are a recurring issue with regular complaints about rip-offs from tourists.
Phuket Jet-Skis and the Seven Year Ditch
Latest The man who oversees everything from the high water mark down on Phuket was involved in the deal that set seven years for jet skis to be phased out. Here's what he thinks now.
Phuket Jet-Skis and the Seven Year Ditch

Planet Phuket: Tuk-Tuk, Jet-Ski, Airport Report Card
Phuket News Analysis After a year and four meetings, it's time to look at the honorary consuls' gatherings with Phuket's leaders and assess what progress has been achieved. Is it all good?
Planet Phuket: Tuk-Tuk, Jet-Ski, Airport Report Card

Aussies 'Ripped Off' in Phuket Jet-Ski Scam
Latest A family group of 13 Australians found that they had to pay a total of 72,500 baht to a jet-ski operator who alleged that jetskis had been damaged. The Aussies say they were ripped off.
Aussies 'Ripped Off' in Phuket Jet-Ski Scam

Phuket's Uninsured Jet-Skis Outnumber Insured
Latest Two more deaths on a jetski at Patong are likely to intensify pressure to make Phuket's jetskis safe or get rid of them. Less than half the jetskis are insured, an investigation reveals.
Phuket's Uninsured Jet-Skis Outnumber Insured

Riled Phuket Tourist Pays Extra Jet-Ski Charge
UPDATE A Phuketwan journalist in Patong encounters JJ Naiman engaged in a mediation debate with a Russian tourist at Kathu Police Station. After a lengthy mediation, the tourist pays up.
Riled Phuket Tourist Pays Extra Jet-Ski Charge


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I think it's got to the point where there is only one real group of people you can lay blame upon... the TOURIST.

Anyone coming here, or who has been here before, is fully aware of what goes on. The press about this is just too wide-spread to go unmissable. The local authorities are obviously incapable of doing anything about it, or don't want to for other reasons.

Solution: The Honorary Consuls do have the power to bring about greater awareness and to tell everyone as they book or get on a plane not to use JetSkis or Tuk Tuks.

If nobody used them they wouldn't be in business and if you do use them, you do so at your own risk.

The sad truth is that Phuket and indeed Thailand as a whole seems to rarely get any good press. This incident, along with all the others, is yet another nail in the coffin. It hasn't or will not change unless people make a stand.

As Mr Cunningham rightly pointed out if Krabi can do it, why can't Phuket. Who is the real holder of power? Who is the 'dark influence' behind JetSkis and Tuk Tuks?

I guess we'll be reading the same story again very soon.

Posted by Graham on February 22, 2011 15:27



Posted by Karsten on February 22, 2011 16:38

Editor Comment:

Karsten, life is never as simple as writing in capital letters makes it seem. Most people find that once they have to use lowercase and capitals, the complications begin. That's certainly the case with jet-skis. Your simply answer, sadly, is not a workable option.


Possible Solutions: I'm sure we all have them including what would seem the most appropriate - a complete ban, but we are all aware that's highly unlikely.

To the Honorary Consuls: Is it not possible for respective governments in your country to ask;

1. Booking Agents - To supply a short "Warning" list. This could cover the things the tourist should not do, including renting of JetSkis and hiring of Tuk Tuks. I appreciate that the Booking Agent might be concerned this might frighten off the customer but at least it would show the customer that the Booking Agent is trustworthy and cares about its customers. It the customer has any real concerns simply sell them an alternative destination.

2. National Carriers. Could not the airlines produce a small leaflet with the same warnings. This could come with ticket. If it's an online ticket to be printed even easier - include the warning on there.

It's time to do something and it's time to put a stop to this and we are all aware that the Thai Authorities either won't or are incapable of doing so.

So it's time for others to act. Whether the above is feasible or not, I am sure there are many other ways to do it. But in the interest of protecting the tourist surely all the clever chaps at the Embassies could come up with something that would work and would require no intervention by the Thai Authorities.

Hell, why not get a simple Viral Email Marketing Campaign going. I'll participate. Sure my Facebook and Email friends wouldn't mind me making sure they weren't ripped off during their holiday.

United we stand and divided we continuously get ripped-off.

Posted by Graham on February 22, 2011 17:17

Editor Comment:

The fewer customers the jet-skis have, the more pressure there will be to continue rip-offs on remaining users. Travel alerts sadly don't get read. We still advocate a triple-whammy: make the operators pay for their own damages claims through a co-op; reduce the number of jet-skis to 120 honest operators; put a mobile enforcement team into a beach buggy on Patong.


Probably questions already answered. 1. Did Krabi have jet skis to start with before the ban? 2. Is the ban effective? 3. Any Krabi readers that would like to confirm the jet ski situation in Krabi?

Posted by Lee on February 22, 2011 17:20


I agree with Graham....the Consuls just need to let the people in their countries know of the risk that you will take if you rent a jet ski or tuk tuk...Just make it clear that if you want to take a chance and use these services, there is a very high chance that you will be ripped off...It should be printed and publciised as a travel warning in every travel brochure etc and travel agents need also to inform their clients traveling here...If the tourists at this point still want to use them, then..."cest la vie."

....and then when you read quotes like..

''I will try to make the jet-ski problem disappear from Phuket,'' Khun Phuripat told the meeting.

Try???....are you kidding me?..whats wrong with this picture???

Posted by sky on February 22, 2011 17:49

Editor Comment:

Australia and possibly other countries already warn travellers of the dangers of jet-skis. Fat lot of good that does. Holidaymakers will have fun, no matter what - that's human nature. Warnings don't work. Besides, the hon cons are not out to harm Phuket, but to help to change it for the better. There is no reason why the jet-skis can't be controlled with a sensible strategy such as Phuketwan's plan, plus enforcement.


"the death of the honeymoon couple on a jet-ski was a terrible accident that could not have been avoided."
It would not have happened if the jet skis were not there. What is in place to stop it happening again?
Ed, I think you are resigned to the fact that they are here to stay. Power to Mr. Cunningham, I hope he is fully supported by the other Consuls.
I think the statement "Patong Rip Offs Tourists are scammed of 150,000 baht'.
Should read; "Patong Rip Offs, Tourists are scammed of at least 150,000 Baht every day"

Posted by Sandy Shores on February 22, 2011 18:53

Editor Comment:

Chances of removing the jet-skis are minimal, so the next best option is to bring them under tight control: reduce the number to 120, make them pay for each other's damages claims, and have mobile enforcers on the beach. Most problems require a three-point solution strategy.


> Editor Comment:
> Chances of removing the jet-skis are > minimal,

as said above, riding a water vehicle with more than 5 horsepower requires a Captains license!

Posted by Karl Kaputnik on February 22, 2011 19:15

Editor Comment:

Sure, but the authorities have never enforced that law . . . which makes it virtually impossible to enforce now. After such a period of inaction, the jet-ski operators could sue, and probably win.


@Ed "Your simply answer, sadly, is not a workable option"

Why not ?? Theres a law, its being broken, simply enforce the law and the problem is solved. A previous agreement was to give them 7 years to let the investment in the machines be paid and them die off, the operators have abused that deal and have no intention of not breaking the law every day.

Simply as these are local families that benefit, the situation becomes 'unfixable' why is that the attitude ?? If drug dealing is against the law its controlled and punished, if piloting a jetski without an operators ticket is against the law why can it also not be enforced.

If there was a genuine will to achieve it, it could be done. If its only pretend and lip service to the press of course it won't.

Posted by LivinLOS on February 22, 2011 19:17

Editor Comment:

LivinLOS, did you write at Thai Visa:

''Agreed.. Alan loses the plot with the comments. They publish great (if fact sloppy in their haste) articles and seem to be most on the pulse with the news.. But his actions in posting are very unprofessional.
They also edit comment responses prior to posting to the extent that the comment has a different bias or tone than posted, for no other reason than they don't agree with them. They really sure have a clear moderation policy and stick to it as currently its purely on whatever whim or mood of the moment is in play.''

If this is your comment, aren't you being hypocritical by abusing me in one place and expecting me to treat you fairly in another? You hurl the insult ''unprofessional'' so effortlessly. Whim? Mood? I think that's you, LivinLOS, Livin a lie.

As for your jet-ski comment, it clearly isn't that simple. Do some research.



Posted by david on February 22, 2011 19:57

Editor Comment:

david, bullies and blusterers bloated with insults are banned. And if I want you as a ''mate,'' mate, I'll let you know.


>>david, bullies and blusterers bloated with insults are banned

So jet ski operators that threaten tourists are banned? I'm glad that's settled.

Posted by Bullies on February 22, 2011 20:45



Posted by Robert Lisle on February 22, 2011 21:46

Editor Comment:

Robert, ''shallow and ill-focussed'' . . . you said it. Cavernously crass, confused, cranky. Back to TV for you.


I wonder how much the jet ski guys get to keep after paying off all the higher ups involved.

It would be interesting to be able to follow the money and see how far up the scam goes.

Posted by mikey on February 22, 2011 22:49


Disgusting - really
I have visited Thailand and Phuket in particular more than 24 times in the past 36 months. I am well aware of the scams and avoid them like the plague, I don't do the Duty Free Shops, I avoided Tuk-Tuks - I hire a car and keep it till I leave. I would not be seen dead on a jet-Ski on Phuket.
There are tourists who do not have this insight, and they are screwed by the Tuk Tuk and Jet Ski Guys, as well as the Airport Taxis. But over and above this, what concerns me more is that NOTHING changes, it's like an accident waiting to happen.
Can we not distribute material at the airport on arrival to warn the precious tourists of the potential risks in hiring Jet-skis?

Posted by Tony on February 23, 2011 00:01

Editor Comment:

A real solution would be better.


"If this is your comment, aren't you being hypocritical by abusing me in one place and expecting me to treat you fairly in another? You hurl the insult ''unprofessional'' so effortlessly. Whim? Mood? I think that's you, LivinLOS, Livin a lie."

That is my comment and I stand by it, and if you think thats abuse you must have lead a very sheltered life.

The very fact you take a criticism, and quote it as a response to my comment shows the lack of professionalism I mean. What does my views on your posting have to do with the Jetski comment I posted ??

You need to set rules for comment posting and editing, clear and laid out, and stick to them.

Posted by LivinLOS on February 23, 2011 08:21

Editor Comment:

LivingLOS, ignorance is your big problem. If you call a journalist - or any other professional - ''unprofessional,'' you are committing a libel. Your abuse, and your made-up interpretation of the motives for our actions, is nonsense based on ignorance. If you keep spreading malicious lies, here or anywhere else, I will have no choice but to protect my reputation and sue you, under your real name.

As much as we advocate free speech, I won't tolerate liars and dissemblers. You fit both categories.


As a few other poster's have said already it really is this simple.There is a law banning anyone from riding a jet ski without a license, Apply it !

Is not the law regarding compulsory helmets on bike riders currently being applied more vigorously ?

Someone high enough in the Government food chain must surely step up and say, enough is enough ?

Posted by seamus on February 23, 2011 09:02


Hey LoS, aka Thai-Sleaza Mod,
How's it feel to be censored and your comments trivialised?

Posted by Cap't. Kirk on February 23, 2011 09:57


It doesn't matter how much you shout here, jet skis won't go away. Spread the words from friends to friends, there is a Facebook page for jet ski scam Thailand and it does have more than a few member. At this moment and with all the news around it, I bet you a jetski that all tourist knows about the scams and those who still rent and got scammed well as they say in Thai, som nam na...

Posted by X expat on February 23, 2011 16:48

Editor Comment:

No matter how hard you try, some people will not be informed. That's why warnings won't work, and why the system has to be modified and enforced. If jet-skis are permanently confiscated for breaches, change will come. Warnings are already in place, to no great effect.



Posted by Kim Ludvigsen on February 23, 2011 17:33

Editor Comment:

I don't intend to tolerate libellous comments made about me, or anyone else for that matter. Avoiding legal action is the main reason why comments are moderated, not to support any particular line of opinion. We also cut comments that are bigoted, racist or deeply offensive for any other reason. If you are a journalist, Kim, then you need to understand what libel is and to avoid it if possible, otherwise you are a liability to any legitimate publisher.



Posted by Kim Ludvigsen on February 23, 2011 18:16

Editor Comment:

Kim, you repeated a libellous accusation. And you clearly didn't read my response to your first libellous comment. Sober up. Learn your craft.


Luckily you can only moderate your own debate.

Feel free to moderate this as well. And be happy that nobody here can see that your moderation is totally without merit.

As for what libel is, maybe you should look it up. Calling others liars, claiming they are spreading libel and insinuating they post bigoted, racist or deeply offensive things in their posts fits the definition very much more than anything that has been written in my posts or in the post you yourself quote from another debate.

It is very sad that you ruin the paper this way, I hope it is your own - no owner or editor is named on the about page. You wouldn't be able to publish a newspaper without those names in most countries. For libel reasons.

Posted by Kim Ludvigsen on February 23, 2011 19:47

Editor Comment:

Kim, you don't even seem to understand the difference between journalism by bylined professionals obliged to uphold ethical codes . . . and comments online by people who disguise their identities and say anything that comes into their anonymous heads without the need for either comprehension or restraint. Some commenters are ethical. Others lie and libel to suit themselves. Your ignorance is what's saddening.


@Capt Kirk, What Thai forums do you think I moderate ??

@Editor, Please explain what comments are 'malicious lies'..

Posted by LivinLOS on February 23, 2011 20:14

Editor Comment:

Everything you've invented about our motives for moderation of comments is a lie. You are guessing. You don't know. To publish your guesswork as if somehow you have inside knowledge is shameful. To condemn without evidence is thoughtless and unjust. To do it on another site noted for censoriously banning phuketwan - a site that also banned me from commenting without my knowledge - shows considerable malice. I regret that the TV forum has been closed. I wish it had been left open. Now it sits there, influencing some people to make unreasonable judgements, all based on lies. So far you are the only TV liar confused enough to comment back here, as if somehow your lies there don't count. The calculated denigration on TV, a site that doesn't allow mention of phuketwan, is what I would call a set-up. You have made your choice.


I surely do understand the difference. As I wrote in my first post, I am a journalist and used to be a publisher as well. You deleted that as well as the rest of my post. And the following post.

My posts did not include libel of any kind and certainly not the other things you implied in your answer.

And unlike so many other posters - and you - I posted in my own name, precisely because I wanted to be serious.

But it takes at least two serious people to have a serious debate. I hope that the fact that you now let my posts appear on the site is the first sign that you want to be more serious.

It really is a shame that the comments from you ruins the impression of Phuket Wan. It was a joy to read the statement some time ago about journalistic standards, but that should apply to the comments as well.

As said earlier, I don't recall any serious news site using the comment section as it is the case here. Normally, you let the users have their say and only edit the comments if something is against the law, or if someone is bullying others.

And you don't use the comment section to flaunt your opinion. You have a big advantage that the users do not have, if you want your opinion to be known, you can write an opinion.

Posted by Kim Ludvigsen on February 23, 2011 20:55

Editor Comment:

You're right: I don't use the comment section to flaunt my opinion. But we are committed to challenge the views of those who promote narrow, entrenched, wrong-headed views that aren't based on fact. As you've just started posting, how would you know if we censor and twist? A journalist should be able to produce the evidence. Stop confusing journalism with anonymous comments. We are not a conventional site. Most readers know this. If you want convention, stick with what you know.



Posted by Kim Ludvigsen on February 23, 2011 21:41

Editor Comment:

I have spent two years reading all kinds of insults and lies. Perhaps your timing is bad, Kim, but i do not intend to allow you to repeat libels, and I have better things to do than read your arguments for not debating issues with readers. It's a non-argument. Most readers understand we don't operate by the book. Most readers understand that because we write the articles, we've learned a little about the topics we deal with. We challenge opinions, and we plan to continue to challenge opinions - as we see fit. Find a site that lets you repeat libels about anyone you want, but it won't be this one.


Sorry, I hoped that you was ready for a serious debate, my bad.

Why do you keep spreading lies about libel in my posts? Actually, what you are doing is rather the definition of libel!

But of course it is so much easier for you to just delete a comment and lie than to try to argue.

Posted by Kim Ludvigsen on February 23, 2011 22:12

Editor Comment:

This is not a chat site, or a debating society. The article is about jet-skis, Kim. Is there something you have to add to our knowledge about jet-skis? If not, goodnight.


Is this a 5 minute argument or the full half-hour?

Posted by Mike Boyd on February 23, 2011 22:36


There are way to many Phuket people taking cuts out of the jet ski scam to make this go away or as it was put THE people of dark influences in your article, I wonder who you could mean. The consuls ambassadors have the ear of those in power in Bangkok who one would hope have the power to make the jet ski problem go away forever rapidly, why aren't they must see the press footage it receives both at home and abroad suling Thailand's image and reputation and one would hope the powers that be in Phuket are keeping them up to date regarding this matter .Get a grip and get it sorted before more people ditch Phuket as a holiday destination. Money's tight and there are lots more options for the tourist buck Mr Governor.

Posted by Steve on February 25, 2011 02:05

Editor Comment:

Why is it that anonymous online commentators talk so much more toughly than the rest of us, and understand what needs to be done so effortlessly? Why can't we have envoys and leaders who are anonymous online commentators? That seems to me to be the obvious answer to all of Phuket's problems.


I agree with Kim Ludvigsen 100%. Editor is not allowing freedom of speach, but the selective freedom of speach using bannings and complaining about Thai Visa chat rooms... I do not get it. Kepping up appearances when all know the Phuket (Thai) system is 100% corrupt and selective as well.

Posted by Hockey on March 9, 2011 12:26

Editor Comment:

The difference between us and chat rooms is the articles start the conversations here, so we know a little about the topics. We discourage views that either put us at risk legally, are biased or unfair, or add nothing to what everybody already knows. Valid opinions are encouraged, especially from those who can speak of their own personal experience or their own recent research. The alternative is a chat room, where ignorance, bias and legally risky comments are not discouraged. At Thai Visa, we are even blocked from responding to personal criticism aimed directly at us. That's the way they - and their partners - like it.


If anyone has seen the warning about TIMESHARE as you come in to Patong (can hardly miss it) they should have one warning people about Jet Ski Scammers and Tuk Tuk drivers that beat tourists up........ As a travel tour company we ALWAYS advise tourists against both Jet Skis and Tuk Tuks.

Posted by Terry on March 11, 2011 11:11


Phuket is what it is, and not what it was. The Govt choose not to control the jet-skis and tuk tuks, so enter at your own risk. It is illegal to be publicly intoxicated, but no-one stops serving booze, it's illegal to drive/ride without a license or helmet, but no-one polices it, It's illegal to ride jet-skis without a license, but no one controls it. It's illegal to tailgate, pass on the left and run red lights - but no one enforces it. And the list goes on...
Phuket is heading out of control and needs to be reined in before it's too late and paradise is lost.

"A very concerned resident"

Posted by Junior on March 22, 2011 08:32

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