The BBC reports
“Now new allegations have been made that a number of passengers are being detained every month in the duty free area on suspicion of shoplifting, and then held by the police until they pay large sums of money to buy their freedom.”
and goes on to describe how the scam works on its website, and includes a story of how two British visitors were allegedly victimized, a story first reported by The Times newspaper back on June 28th.
This is not a new scam. Back in April, an Indian traveller was detained in Bangkok in very similar circumstances for allegedly stealing a box of cigarettes from a duty-free shop at Bangkok International Airport. While in jail, his relatives requested help from the Indian Embassy but were told the embassy was unable to assist. He had to pay almost $1,000 to secure his release.
Apparently the scam now called ZigZag, has being victimising many Asians regularly, and letters and phone calls to the Thai authorities are routinely ignored. Now that the scam has hit a few western travellers, the pot has boiled over.