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Maxim Kurnikov, 33: Patong operator wanted $80,000 for a new jet-ski

Phuket Jet-Ski Scammers Still at Work

Monday, November 10, 2014
PHUKET: Extortionists in Patong demanded $US80,000 (2.6 million baht) to replace a jet-ski after a crash at the popular beach at the weekend, said a Russian tourist who lives and works in London.

Maxim Kurnikov, 33, told Phuketwan that law officers in the Phuket west coast holiday destination took the side of the jet-ski operators and behaved badly.

Negotiations dragged on for about six hours. Eventually he and a friend paid 76,000 baht.

Mr Kurnikov and British citizen Amr Ali, 36, admitted being responsible for crashing jet-skis at Patong on Saturday.

''I crashed into my friend's jet-ski to try to avoid a collision with another jet-ski being ridden by a couple of people, I think they were Japanese or Koreans,'' Mr Kurnikov said.

''The only safety instruction we got was to not get too close to each other. I remembered too late that the steering was not properly aligned, so I had to tilt it to go straight.''

The crash came 10 minutes after the friends hired a pair of jet-skis at the southern end of Patong beach, below the Amari Resort.

''We had so much fun the first time on the Tuesday, I said to my friend 'Let's hire jet-skis again,'' Mr Kurnikov said.

The operators said after the crash that they wanted the pair to go to the repair shop. However, while Mr Ali went with the jet-ski operators, Mr Kurnikov went back to the resort where staff advised him to go to the Tourist Police.

''We were told at first on the beach that we needed to buy a replacement jet-ski for $80,000,'' Mr Kurnikov said. ''I acknowledge it was our fault and we were happy to pay for the damage, but we didn't want to get ripped off.''

One of the jet-skis was scratched a little so the argument concerned the damaged jet-ski that Mr Ali hired.

''We could see that the engine was fine and still working, so all that was needed was a new hull. Staff at the resort told me to call the Tourist Police, which I did.

''My friend went to the repair shop, where they all knew each other. The repairman said 'On my, Oh my, oh my . . . you'll have to buy a new one.' Yet they soon had the engine working again.

''The owner was in tears on the beach. I can't remember how many children he said that he had to feed.

''He was in tears again at the repair shop. He was in tears at the first police station. He was in tears at the second police station. They took pictures. I took pictures.

''He was not happy that I was asking questions.

''When we went to the small police box, the [tourist] policeman gave me a long speech about his powers and said I shouldn't call anyone else. He was not happy that I was asking questions so he changed his tone to show who was boss. He started yelling.

''First of all they said we would have to pay 32,000 baht for the barely scratched scooter.

''The other one they wanted 150,000 baht in compensation. Then they went to 116,000 baht - I don't know how because they were speaking all in Thai - then they came up with 80,000 baht.

''The crash happened about 1.40pm and we were finally done around 7pm.''

Expat police volunteers became involved in the debate with the Tourist Police and suggested that the mediation process be continued at the Kathu Police Station, where the price being asked bounced back up.

The asking price went up to 150,000 baht, plus a fee for time out of the water.

''The final figure was 76,000 baht,'' Kurnikov said. ''That's including everything.''

He said that the scratched jet-ski - for which the pair paid a time-out-of-the-water-for repairs fee - was back in the water at Patong beach on Sunday.

''I always wanted to go to Thailand,'' Mr Kurnikov said, ''but I was studying in the US and spent every Christmas since about 2005 in Miami.

''The incident won't change my opinion about Thailand. It just confirms what my friends told me, that if anything happened, they try to scam you for money. The insurance that they have on the jet-ski doesn't cover that much damage.

''When the Tourist Policeman was playing good cop bad cop himself, first of all he was intimidating and screaming. He scares you first then is gentle and soothing.

''If I hadn't had good advice from the resort staff, it could have been a different outcome. I didn't expect the police to be involved directly in the money situation. In other countries, they don't usually negotiate financial issues.''

Mr Kurnikov reckoned the jet-ski had been cracked and poorly repaired many times in the past.

''It was our fault the jet-skis crashed and we were happy to pay. But the negotiations need to be held in a civilised manner,'' Mr Kurnikov said.

The Tourist Policeman who dealt with the issue is believed to have been transferred from his role as a regular policeman after complaints about the way other jet-ski disputes had been mediated.

Region 8 police volunteer Wal Brown said it would have cost about an extra 30,000 baht above the 50,000 baht insurance to fix the damaged jet-ski.

''The Kathu Police Station is where these issues should be mediated,'' he said.

An Australian man who spoke to Phuketwan last week said his jet-ski sank in the water off Patong because of poor maintenance. He knew of at least one other holidaymaker who'd had the same problem.

Honorary consuls on Phuket have said many times that the island's 286 jet-ski operators make enough money to be able to afford full and comprehensive insurance - including time-out-of-the-water - that would make disputes unnecessary.

Mr Kurnikov and Mr Ali fly out today.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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they have to go. enough is enough. they are doing more damage to Phuket tourism than the tsunami.

Posted by john on November 10, 2014 12:32

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The owner was in tears on the beach. I can't remember how many children he said that he had to feed.
''He was in tears again at the repair shop. He was in tears at the first police station. He was in tears at the second police station.

Tears- of joy!! .....and yet again the cops side with the jstski mob. A nice little earner for some.

Posted by Mister Ree on November 10, 2014 13:21

Editor Comment:

One law officer appears to be a problem, whichever uniform he is wearing at the time.

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When start tourists to learn, you have to BOYCOTT this whole Jet Sky business!

Posted by Kurt on November 10, 2014 13:24

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I am truly shocked.
Truly disappointed in Thailand.
It does show, that the Jet Ski's are protected 100% by the powers that be.

They will never be gone, because too many powerful figures have their hand in the pot.

Posted by Tbs on November 10, 2014 13:28

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The 2 guys who had the accident seem to be open & honest with their account of this encounter with the jet skis. They freely admit liability.

Once again we read of more outrageous scamming attempts by these jet ski thugs, apparently supported by a tourist policeman. This really has to be stopped once & for all. If they cannot behave properly, then enough is indeed enough, get rid of them.

The policeman should be identified & removed from public duty. Another stain on the character of Thailand by a small greedy minority.

Posted by Logic on November 10, 2014 13:35

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what happened to them all being fully insured ?

Posted by Michael on November 10, 2014 13:37

Editor Comment:

They've never been fully insured. A death will gain the victim's family a mere 150,000 baht. Insurance covers just 50,000 baht in damage, with no allowance for time-out-of-the-water in repairs. So there is nearly always a haggle over 16,000 baht (five days at 3000 baht a day, plus 1000 baht for paperwork.) The amounts claimed are usually ridiculous but some people are intimidated when six or seven operators gather and pay up. The scam continues to bring shame on Thailand.

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Contact your Consul, Embassy, and than go to your hotel. NEVER bring yourself in money talk situation. Keep your mouth shut! You can not be charged for any criminal matter as it is not, so police MUST let you go back freely to your hotel. Again, call your Consul, Embassy, and Phuket newspapers. Quarantee,... the next meeting you not pay anything as jet skies have insurance!! Jet sky operators are obligated to ask your personal sailing skill license to be allowed to sail a jet sky ( Thai law!)
If the jet sky operator sett you sea worth without you have a license ( you , a tourist, do not know you need a license!), anything is his responsibility. THAT IS THE THAI LAW !

Posted by Kurt on November 10, 2014 13:44

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Over to the Marine Office Chief then. Will he follow through with his own threats? Or... Tick tock, tick tock.

Posted by Duncan on November 10, 2014 13:59

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The TAT should put up a big sign board in the arrival hall in Phuket Airport that " Jet ski scam is inevitable. Rent it at your own risk"!!
I believe no one will to go near these jet ski operators again.

Posted by smh on November 10, 2014 14:02

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80000USD = 4 new average level jet ski machine
:)))))

It would a huge violation in any country that respects a rule of law by police to be involved in a CIVIL dispute, as civilian disputes are beyond competence of police in any country, they deal with criminal and "petty criminal" =administrative offendes of various character.

What they are so professional to blackmail about is an application of Penal Code article about Mischief, i.e. that propert was damaged intentionally and that what tourist have done is a criminal offense , and if they will not pay, then they will be locked-passport confiscated etc.etc. - and that is apparently NOT TRUE.
Of course, police can put virtually everyone for 48 hours or so behind the bars in police staton on a basis of poorly grounded report , or weak suspicion - same in almost all countries - and there is no responsibility for the police in case if report of the crime will appear to be not confirmed at all after 48hrs.
For jet ski owner to cook a complaint that tourusts allegedly intentionally damaged jet ski is so easy , in order fir friendly police officer to activate MisChief section.

Of course, mischief allegation , will be trashed if not by prosecutor, but by court, but who wants to spend at least 48hrs if their holiday behind the bars? to pay for lawyer? to spend so much time of all this "due process"?

This all scheme is calcined well, tested many times and works in general well .

Who of the vuctims understand those legal peculiarities , moreover of Thai substantial and procedure law?
And even if one would understand, you can't really fight efficiently if are place for 48hrs in a cell of police staton while & investigation unfolds ", and police denied a bail? Of course, the next stage after 48hrs will be that police ask a court fir extension , which court most likely will reject, or will free a victim after 48 hrs - but still a victim will spend 48 hrs in a cell, that is a pressure by syndicate.

Of course, jet ski owner have few tools to make enforcement of a civil claim on a tourist effective.
And travel insurance probably will not pay civil liability claim of tourists as they ride jet ski illegally without required in Thailand license - that actually the way how it should normally work, if you get into collision your insurance company get involved or instruct you, surely, all this subject to proper paperwork etc., that is non-existing in all this jet-ski incidents : "damages" are not actual ones , but "estimate by jet-ski owner", moreover repairs are not concluded (and many cases simply never took a place), so this all at best are anticipatory damages at best.

And from legal point of view, as this is a trade with a consumer, what is culpable is of much narrow scope.
It seems that in many cases it were consumers who are entitled not only for refund but a compensation of damages by jet-ski operators because of fault on the side of latter, that led to a collision or malfunction of the jet.

Posted by Sue on November 10, 2014 14:15

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I used to live next door to a jetski repair shop in Patong. They can fabricate any part of the jetski body, including the hull from scratch using fiberglass. It costs them peanuts and they just take one of their extra jetskis out, of which they always have several sitting around.

Total repair costs on a broken hull...about 1-2k baht maximum. Money lost from jetski out of water = zero baht.

Btw, they were horrible to live next to and their drug addicted son regularly burglarizes every single farang occupied apartment/house in the area and has been doing this for yrs and yrs. None of their kids went to school because they figured they would grow up to rip off tourists and get easy money with the jetskis.

Posted by BigP on November 10, 2014 14:43

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Military is in power more then half year. Where has all their energy gone? Many people where so hopeful. Best example is the Patong mayor. Her 5 point plan was very ambicious maybe too much.

But now she is even unable to do such a little job like blocking the annoying 2 or 3 small muai thai trucks from the road. It is only one of her smaller promises.

Now all the small businesses and vendors are removed from the beach.

But some big hotels are untouched-together with the jet skis. How can somebody think there is not a bigger plan behind?

Posted by Georg The Viking on November 10, 2014 14:50

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'with no allowance for time-out-of-the-water in repairs. So there is nearly always a haggle over 16,000 baht (five days at 3000 baht a day, plus 1000 baht for paperwork.'

I hope the Thai tax authorities are reading this & pursue a huge tax bill against these people.

Posted by Logic on November 10, 2014 14:57

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What it the official reason why they are still allowed on the beach scamming tourists and all other businesses but the parasail had to leave ?

Posted by Resident on November 10, 2014 15:29

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Same same but different!

It was said that:

-No commercial activities on the beaches shuld be allowed.
What happend? Sunbeds and umbrellas that many tourists wants (especially so called "quality tourists")are prohibited.
Jetskis and parasailing speed boats, that alomst no one wants (especially not so called "quality tourists) are allowed and keeping on hurting, scamming and killing tourists. Sunbeds and umbrellas never hurted or killed anyone.

-Green plate taxis (limo taxis) is not allowed to park along the streets anymore. What happend? There is a lots of green plate taxis everywhere along the streets.

-Taxi fares shall be metered by taxi meters and shall not be a rip off.
What happend? You have to argue a lot to make a metered taxi driver to put on the meter. Even when he do so, the fares are the same or even higher than before.

-Tuktuks are allowed only at special areas and in a limited amount.
What happend? Most tuktuks are back at same places and in almost same amount as before.

So far, what is the outcome?
Sunbeds and umbrellas gone. Everything else is the same.

Same same but different!

Posted by PhuketFriendly on November 10, 2014 17:23

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Why all the outrage? Anyone who rents one of these things and then gets scammed deserves everything they get. Look this has been going on for years, it's extremely well documented in almost every language imaginable and so if you are thick enough to hire one then sure you're a gullible target.

Let the jetskis continue operating and scamming - they are obviously not concerned about their country or the reputation it now rightly deserves as the 'Land of Scams'.

This will continue for a long time to come and as long as there is easy money to be made and the cops are just as crooked then Thailand will continue to lose out on tourists.

Posted by Graham on November 10, 2014 18:21

Editor Comment:

Nobody expects to be scammed. When happy-go-lucky tourists come to a destination like Phuket, they expect their safety and security to be a prime consideration. If law officers become involved, they expect justice.

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close the jetski down, kick them out from phuket

Posted by Fred on November 10, 2014 18:41

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To the owner of the jet ski, those tears must have been an Oscar winning performance, Hollywood awaits you!

Posted by Syd on November 10, 2014 19:05

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let's face facts.the jet ski operaters win even against the army and navy.

Posted by Anonymous on November 10, 2014 19:28

Editor Comment:

Let's face the facts, anonymous comments aren't worth a crumpet.

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They will never ban the jet-ski's. there are to many power full people earning way to much money with them. They told us they would be fazed out over 7 years. The deadline for this was many years ago.

Posted by FS on November 10, 2014 20:01

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Earlier today in a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall, the Director of Phuket Marine Office 5, Phuripat Theerakulpisut, said that he had warned Phuket's jet-ski operators that ''any more trouble will bring a total ban.''

Yep...that's working out about as predictably as we all assumed it would.

Posted by Ian Steel on November 10, 2014 21:58

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And so the saga continues.... WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET RID OF THIS PROBLEM FOREVER?? It's quite obvious that money is more important than a countries reputation.... pathetic!!

Posted by DG on November 11, 2014 05:28

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same thing in pattaya.sometimes they use coloured wax on the cracked in hull.then when taken in water the wax melts and then they show pictures of good JetSki, and the bad one when Brought back to shore after wax is gone. And sometimes the photos they show are about 2 weeks old, sneaky people.they forget that the photos do show the date and time. So please check the camera.

Posted by Greg on November 11, 2014 08:38

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It's a shame that this happens on Phuket.
If any of these people that you have reported about have Photos you should show them Of the Jet skis , Owners and police involved and create a Hall of Shame about the whole Jet Ski Scam. Publicize the hell out of the people that rip off tourists. Put their photos on the front page a warn the tourist.
They might be looked upon differently by the real police that want to clean up Thailand.

Posted by John on November 13, 2014 18:51

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still catching tourists with these scams and zip done about it.
welcome to phuket where the jet skies and tuk tuks rule the land. and phukets rep goes down the toilet.Shame used to be a good holiday destination.
better more tourist friendly countries out there

Posted by shame on November 17, 2014 12:51

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I dont know how many times you have to tell tourists visiting Thailand NOT to rent jetskis, anywhere, especially Phuket and Pattaya. Just dont do it and you will have a nice time.

Posted by Eric in USA on November 29, 2014 06:07


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