Acting on a tip-off, Immigration officers went to central Phuket yesterday evening and took James H. Nelson, 64, from the Lake View Apartments in Tungthong for questioning.
Mr Nelson said his passport had been sent to the Canadian Embassy for replacement.
A check with Phuket Airport Immigration established that Mr Nelson had arrived on Phuket on September 22, 2010 and the tourist visa allowed him to stay until November 20 that year.
Mr Nelson was kept in the cells at Tungthong Police Station overnight and will face Phuket Provincial Court today.
Overstays are fined at the rate of 500 baht a day but this amount is usually capped at 20,000 baht, Captain Wattanatorn Bamrungtin of Tungthong Police told Phuketwan today.
In theory, the penalty could be 20,000 baht plus a two-year jail term, the captain said. However, the maximum was unlikely to be imposed.
In the event that Mr Nelson could not pay a fine, one option was for him to pay off the amount by serving jail time at the value of 200 baht a day.
Mr Nelson has no job and a heart condition, the captain added.
''This is a sad case,'' said Captain Wattanatorn. ''We have heard from his former girlfriend, who has since become happily married and started a family with another expat.
''She feels sorry for Mr Nelson and arranged for food and drink to be brought to him last night in the cells. It seems he gets by on an 11,000 baht a month pension from his home country.''
After arriving on Phuket, Mr Nelson apparently developed a liking for the island's bars and was an easy mark for some women, the captain said he had been told.
His ex-girlfriend, a teacher, had even offered to pay the fine if Mr Nelson turns out to be as poor as he seems, Captain Wattanatorn said.
Deportation is almost certain to follow the payment of a fine for overstaying. It's believed there are hundreds of other expats like Mr Nelson on Phuket, with little means of support.