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  1. #1
    FarangRed
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    SA family's holiday nightmare in Phuket

    Johannesburg - A South African family’s holiday in Phuket turned into a nightmare on their last day, after the father was arrested and detained for almost a month for supposedly being in possession of fake dollars.

    Gabriel Sequeira, 43, from Johannesburg was released only after his family paid out several amounts, totalling about R200 000 to local police and lawyers, reported The Star.

    A delighted Sequeira arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday where he was met by his wife Carla and two of his three children. (The other was at a school camp).

    His ordeal started on the last day of their 10-day family holiday in Phuket when Sequeira changed $1 000 (about R7 800) at a bank across the road from his hotel. He was arrested by police who said he had fake dollars.

    Sequeira, however, said they had bought the dollars from a travel agent in Johannesburg and had exchanged them throughout their holiday with no problems.

    His wife remained in Thailand while his children flew back to SA. His brother and a friend flew to Thailand to help free him.

    His passport was confiscated and police continuously demanding money for his release.

    Despite a letter from the travel agent insisting the money was genuine, authorities refused to release him.

    Finally, after a month and about R180 000, the family’s money ran out and Sequeira’s passport was returned and he was allowed to travel back to SA.

    SA family's holiday nightmare: News24: South Africa: News

  2. #2
    FarangRed
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    'My R200 000 holiday hell'
    By Botho Molosankwe

    A Joburg man received a jubilant welcome at the OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday morning as he arrived home from a month-long nightmare ordeal that cost his family R200 000.

    Gabriel Sequeira was finally united with his family weeks after their 10-day holiday in Phuket, Thailand turned sour.

    Sequeira was arrested on charges of being in possession of fake dollars, had his passport confiscated for a month and had to frequently pay out sums of money to the police and lawyers to apparently finance the “case” against him.

    As Sequeira faced uncertainty in Phuket, his distraught family and friends in South Africa kept depositing money into his credit card. At the same time the police kept taking it and demanding more.

    A month and R180 000 later, the family pleaded poverty. They deposited their last R20 000 and the 43-year-old man was able to leave and head for South Africa after finally being given his passport in a barter agreement.

    This morning the group of people who had helped secure Sequeira’s release through financial contributions and support gathered at OR Tambo under a banner proclaiming “Gabs we love you”.

    Sequeira’s wife’s Carla was the first to go to him, and hugged and kissed him in the arrivals terminal.

    Sequeira then embraced his 9-year-old daughter Alexis and 13-year-old son Steven. His 12-year-old son Marco was away on a school camp and unable to meet his dad.

    The family’s nightmare began on the last day of their holiday.

    They were about to check out of their hotel when Sequeira crossed the road to exchange $1 000 (R7 800) at the bank in order to settle his hotel bill. However, police arrested him on a charge of being in possession of alleged fake dollars.

    The couple was confused because they had bought the dollars at Rennies Travel in Bedfordview, and had exchanged them throughout their stay without a problem.

    They believe they were targeted because Sequeira was exchanging a large amount and police had identified him as a rich individual.

    His passport and remaining dollars were confiscated and he was taken to the police holding cells where Carla was sickened by what she saw when she went to visit him.

    “He was in a tiny cell the size of a toilet cubicle with about 10 other foreign men. There was a dip in the centre where they could relieve themselves and there was a guy on the floor eating food,” she said.

    “Gabriel was holding onto the bars and said ‘try and get me out of here’,” she said. to me

    While still in the cell a police officer brought a statement written in Thai for Sequeira to sign. He refused as he didn’t understand the document. But a New Zealander introduced to him as a tourism police officer and one of the few officials who could speak English, told him it was safe to sign the document as it was “just a formality”.

    Unbeknown to Sequeira, by signing the statement he was acknowledging guilt.

    He was released on R75 000 bail, but not given his passport. His children returned to South Africa on their own while Carla remained in Thailand.

    Sequeira’s friend and brother flew to Phuket to try to secure his release, and although they paid money, the authorities refused to budge. A document from Rennies Travel proving that the dollars were genuine, a copy of which has been seen by The Star, was also disregarded. Efforts to seek help from both the South African and Portuguese embassies failed because Sequeira was no longer in custody, he had signed an admission of guilt and the police insisted that the matter was under control.

    Disheartened, Sequeira’s supporters returned to South Africa. At some point the authorities demanded more money to take the dollars to Bangkok for forensic investigation – costs of which the family had to cover.

    “Basically I had to buy my way out,” Sequeira said this morning.

    It was only on Wednesday, after Sequeira was given his passport to withdraw the last R20 000, that he managed to leave the country.

    He paid a fine for overstaying his visa and was free to leave with no pending criminal action against him on record.

    Spokesman for International Relations Clayson Monyela advised that South Africans visiting foreign countries make the high commission or embassy their first port of call. This, he said, was to make sure they are registered as visitors and given advice for that particular country. Should they run into trouble, someone will then be able to come to their assistance quickly. - The Star

    Source: http://www.iol.co.za...-hell-1.1147472

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat
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    There's got to be another side of this story; South Africa is not that far from Nigeria.

  4. #4
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    Hmmm - me thinks that something is fishy...

    Why would he change USD 1,000 on his last day of holiday?

  5. #5
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    After milking him of almost everything he had, they then charge him overstay...priceless!

  6. #6
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    I'll side with an African against Thai police any fokking day of the week. Racist Thai scum!!

  7. #7
    Pedantic bastard
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    Quote Originally Posted by CNF55 View Post
    Hmmm - me thinks that something is fishy...

    Why would he change USD 1,000 on his last day of holiday?
    That was suspicious to me also, but in the second story he says he was going to use the money to settle the hotel bill....

  8. #8
    I am in Jail

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jools View Post
    I'll side with an African against Thai police any fokking day of the week. Racist Thai scum!!
    there you have it

  9. #9
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    just another opportunist scam, this time involving a bank employee and the police.

    in any civilized country a story like this would have caught the attention of the press and central government, who would have intervened.

    but in the most dysfunctional province of an already dysfunctional country, these occurrences are allowed to run their course, with predictable results.

  10. #10
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    Yep, get this story around the world.

    And drum into people why they should avoid that shithole like the plague.

  11. #11
    FarangRed
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    "He paid a fine for overstaying his visa and was free to leave with no pending criminal action against him on record."



    So not only was he possibly scammed out of all his money he was incarcerated and held in Thailand for a month. Then they have the nerve to fine him for overstaying his visa ontop of everything else there in lays another scam. So if there was no pending criminal action taken then I would pressume that the notes were not fake and all the monies extorted from him over the month were returned in full.

  12. #12
    FarangRed
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    PHUKET: A South African family has told media there that a 10-day Phuket holiday turned into an ordeal at the hands of police who held a man captive until he had paid the equivalent of 790,000 baht to officers and lawyers.

    Phuket Police Commander Major General Pekad Tantipong, who is supposed to be informed whenever tourists are arrested over serious matters in which passports are surrendered, told Phuketwan this afternoon that he had not been told about the case.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarangRed View Post
    PHUKET: A South African family has told media there that a 10-day Phuket holiday turned into an ordeal at the hands of police who held a man captive until he had paid the equivalent of 790,000 baht to officers and lawyers.

    Phuket Police Commander Major General Pekad Tantipong, who is supposed to be informed whenever tourists are arrested over serious matters in which passports are surrendered, told Phuketwan this afternoon that he had not been told about the case.
    I'm sure he will be calling in every single party involved to find out where his share is, er I mean to punish the offenders.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by CNF55 View Post
    Hmmm - me thinks that something is fishy...

    Why would he change USD 1,000 on his last day of holiday?
    That was suspicious to me also, but in the second story he says he was going to use the money to settle the hotel bill....
    Sorry, not buying that.

    If you want to settle a hotel bill by cash you pay in advance and you will not be allowed to sign anything to your room.

    The story doesn't make sense and as much as I can understand the frustration some of the posters have with all the scams on Phuket I still believe that there is more to this than meets the eyes.

  15. #15
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    not necesarily, you give them a credit card as security when you arrive and settle up by cash when you leave.

    what is strange is that the hotel just didnt accept the dollars.

  16. #16
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    I give you that - I might do the same if I would have some excess Baht or whatever local currency - but do go out (on the last day) and change USD although I have a credit card??

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by taxexile
    what is strange is that the hotel just didnt accept the dollars.
    Hotel exchange rates are not the best in the world.

  18. #18
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    I'd say he was a criminal trying to pass off some counterfeit money and got caught.

    I also believe that no hotels allow credit that has not been guaranteed against a credit card so his excuse I believe to be a lie.

    I have never known anyone personally that has been held against their will here and for a false reason so for all those jumping on the Thai bashing Tsicar, your probably eating your own words.

  19. #19
    Member Albert Shagnasty's Avatar
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    ^
    Agree

  20. #20
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    Coming from south Africa I can understandwhy usd would be first choice of currency for Thailand. Easily convertible anywhere and at sensible rate, unlike thb For a family on a budget it makes sense to use a credit card to guarantee room and charges and then use up currency to pay at end I'm cash. My parents still use cash and travelers cheques rather than ATMs overseas, I don't see that as unusual, especially with thai reputation for credit card scams (a friend had 20k us charged to his Amex in Los Angeles after using it in Phuket - the Amex investigator met him at work in London and said it was common)

    Rather than take the lousy hotel rate he would save 50-80usd on a 1k transaction by crossing the street to a bank or change office.

    Whatever the truth the bib have certainly played to form- extracting as much money as possible irrespective of proven guilt or innocence
    Last edited by Lostandfound; 01-10-2011 at 07:10 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy View Post
    I'd say he was a criminal trying to pass off some counterfeit money and got caught.

    I also believe that no hotels allow credit that has not been guaranteed against a credit card so his excuse I believe to be a lie.

    I have never known anyone personally that has been held against their will here and for a false reason so for all those jumping on the Thai bashing Tsicar, your probably eating your own words.

    Thats kind of the whole problem in Thailand. Either the guy WAS guilty of passing off counterfeit in which case he should have been tried, convected and sentenced, or he wasn't guilty, in which case he should have been released with a handsome apology.

    So long as the police can decide that some one can pay his way out of trouble, there will always be questions as to what was REALLY going on, and guilt and innocence become a matter of finances, and not justice.

    The FACTS of the case shuld hve been easy to settle one way or another - was the note real or counterfiet? All I see in the reports was that he was arrested for passing a counterfiet note, but I never read anywhere that it was established it WAS a counterfiet note. Pretty open and shut to be honest.

    For the record, I have often made a booking at a hotel and secured against a credit card, but settled in cash. It is pretty common both in Thailand and elsewhere - especially where in Thailand they may try to surcharge you for using a credit card...

  22. #22
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    Yet according to another thread Thailand is number one for expats in the world.

    My problem is that with all of these stories, the police are always paid and the guy arrest is allowed to leave the country.

    Why is the evidence not sent to a prosecutor who reviews the case and decides if their is enough evidence to proceed or a lack of evidence and the case is dismissed. If it is prosecuted it should go to court.

    Problem with all of that?

    It is easier to pay and get the heck out of here than go to some Thai kangaroo court where farang are all nasty scum and guilty for sure.

  23. #23
    On a walkabout
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown
    Why is the evidence not sent to a prosecutor who reviews the case and decides if their is enough evidence to proceed or a lack of evidence and the case is dismissed. If it is prosecuted it should go to court.
    It is common practice, always has been mate.

    How they are dealing with this guy is exactly how they deal with their own.

    Extortion what ever way you want to look at it, justified,? nobody apart from those participating will ever know.

    My gut feeling tells me he was guilty.

  24. #24
    Thailand Expat Jesus Jones's Avatar
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    Personally i wouldn't feel comfortable handing my card over as a tourist. He had cash and paid in the safest way. He was scammed.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown View Post

    It is easier to pay and get the heck out of here than go to some Thai kangaroo court where farang are all nasty scum and guilty for sure.
    I understand the point you are making, and for tourists, yep, probably easier to pay and get out of dodge than stay for months and fight it, guilty or not. BUT, in a lot of cases where farangs do take things through the courts, they do get fair an impartial judgement, although mostly I have read about civil cases to be fair. However, i think it is somewhat unfair to portray the courts as anti-farang by default, as I don't think they particularly are.

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