Bangkok Airport

Bangkok Airport Scam

Controversy Surrounds Bangkok’s New International Airport Amid Allegations of Detention Scams

BANGKOK, THAILAND – Bangkok’s new international airport, a project initiated under the administration of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra between 2002 and 2006, has once again found itself at the center of controversy. Despite its ambition to showcase Thailand’s advancement, the airport has been plagued by delays, allegations of corruption, and criticism over its design and construction quality. Adding to its troubled history, the airport faced a shutdown last year due to occupation by anti-government protesters.

The latest issue to emerge involves allegations that passengers, particularly foreigners, are being detained on suspicion of shoplifting within the duty-free area. Victims reportedly face detention by police until they pay substantial sums for their release. Stephen Ingram and Xi Lin, IT professionals from Cambridge, experienced this ordeal firsthand on April 25 as they prepared to depart for London. Despite being cleared by security of stealing a wallet, they were taken into custody and faced demands for payment to secure their release.

Ingram and Lin’s story sheds light on a broader pattern of alleged exploitation, with the couple being accused of participating in a shoplifting incident they vehemently deny. Despite the absence of concrete evidence, they were subjected to intimidation and were detained in deplorable conditions. Their situation escalated as they were coerced into paying £7,500 ($12,250) under the guise of bail, a sum they struggled to gather, resulting in Ingram missing his mother’s funeral.

The incident has been identified as part of a “zig-zag” scheme, a scam familiar to the region, according to the British Embassy. The embassy’s involvement led to the couple’s eventual release, although not before they had paid a significant amount to a middleman known as Tony, who claimed to be assisting them.

Tony and Colonel Teeradej Phanuphan, the regional police commander, insist that Tony’s role was merely to facilitate communication and secure bail. However, the couple’s ordeal and the involvement of money in securing their freedom raise serious questions about the practices at Bangkok’s airport.

This case is not isolated, with similar incidents reported involving nationals from Denmark and Ireland, highlighting a pattern of alleged detentions and financial demands at the airport. The British Embassy has since issued warnings to travelers about the risks of being accused of shoplifting and the potential for wrongful detention.

As Bangkok’s international airport continues to grapple with these controversies, the focus has turned to the need for a thorough investigation and reassessment of security and legal procedures to protect the rights and dignity of travelers passing through Thailand’s gateway to the world.


It’s a real head-scratcher why Jonathan Head didn’t just come out and ask Xi Lin the million-dollar question: “Did you swipe the item or not?” Especially since the so-called “evidence” from the CCTV footage seems to conveniently suggest she’s guilty of a bit of five-finger discount shopping. If she did, their whole sob story takes a nosedive, but let’s not pretend the police and their buddy, the ‘interpreter’ Tony, didn’t milk this situation for all it was worth. Tony, the apparent Robin Hood of airport scams, seems to have found his lucrative niche, capitalizing on the misery of tourists caught in his web of deceit.

The frequency of these shakedowns seems to be on the rise, subjecting unsuspecting travelers to a whirlwind of stress, not to mention the sudden hole in their wallets. As one astute observer pointed out, it’s as if the authorities have stumbled upon a novel business model: masquerading petty theft accusations as an opportunity for a quick kidnap and ransom scheme. Meanwhile, the Western media is having a field day with this story, eagerly piling on to Thailand’s already sullied reputation as a vacation spot. Because, of course, nothing sells papers like a good old-fashioned tale of tourists in distress in a far-off land.

For those interested in a deeper dive into the murky waters of scams targeting foreigners, my previous posts and the colorful commentary they’ve attracted offer a veritable treasure trove of insights. Welcome to Thailand, the land of smiles, scams, and shakedowns.