Tips for avoiding property scams in Thailand

August 31, 2021 - Reading time: 10 minutes

Thailand has a reputation as being a place where foreigners can be taken advantage of. There are indeed some complicated rules when it comes to foreigners purchasing and owning property in Thailand… We suggest that you fully understand the law and how to correctly navigate it for your situation before deciding to pull the trigger on a property purchase.

As a detective agency, we aim to prevent our clients from falling victim to many different forms of scam. As such, we have put together the following obvious tips which can help you to avoid property scams in Thailand:

1. Avoid buy off-plan 

Buying “off-plan” simply means purchasing a property before it has actually been built. Whether you are purchasing a house or a condominium, buying off-plan often allows for flexible payment terms – you might be able to pay a small deposit, and then make several more payments as the property is being constructed.

However, there have been many documented cases where building projects have failed to get off the ground. Perhaps the development company was not able to secure enough investment, or they ran into issues with zoning or construction permits. Whatever the issue, if construction is halted you risk losing money. We suggest avoiding off-plan purchases for this reason.

The Waterfront Suites condo building in Pattaya

Photo: The infamous Waterfront Suites condominium building at Bali Hai Pier in Pattaya has remained unfinished and derelict for over 6 years, after city officials halted construction citing allegations that the building differed from previously approved construction designs. The building is one of numerous unfinished projects which can be found in the Pattaya area. The building stands in a prominent position besides the large "Pattaya city" sign which is embedded in the hillside.

2. Use a lawyer

You probably wouldn’t purchase a property without a lawyer in your home country, so why would you act differently in Thailand? We recommend that you always use a lawyer when purchasing property in Thailand. 

Find an independent law firm – not one that was recommended by the seller or development company, and thoroughly check the reviews for your lawyer before deciding to go ahead with them. A good lawyer can help you to avoid making costly mistakes.

Do not deal with lawyers who immediately demand an up-front fee for handling your case. Pay them as you go. Up front fees can be anything from 50,000 THB up to 1,000,000 THB. Thai people do not pay their lawyers massive up front fees.

3. Be wary about holding companies

There are some exceptions, but for the most part foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand. Indeed, the phrase “Every inch of Thailand belongs to the Thais” is included in the first verse of the Thai national anthem.

In order to forego the rules on land ownership, some foreigners might setup holding companies, of which they will own 49%, in order to purchase land. The remaining 51% of shares will be owned by Thai people – usually nominee shareholders. You may find a lawyer or barstool lawyer that swears by this approach, and some people may use it without encountering problems, however, we would recommend exercising caution.

Make no mistake about it – setting up a holding company using nominee shareholders for the sole purpose of owning land is completely illegal. That means if your company is audited then you risk losing everything. If other shareholders conspire against you then you risk losing everything.

In recent years we have seen numerous crackdowns on the improper use of Thai registered companies, with many foreigners finding themselves in hot water.

A popular alternative to holding companies is acquiring a 30 year lease over land on which a property sits; for many expats in the later years of their lives that are retiring to Thailand, a 30 year lease will be adequate for their needs.

4. Avoid “do it all” firms

We recommend being very wary of foreigners who run offices which sell property, provide legal advice/consultancy and offer investment or insurance policies all at the same time. The adage ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none’ is relevant to this type of setup. It is best to find a specialist in any respective field.

Fraud alert sign

5. Check control over utilities

Whether you are purchasing a house or an apartment/condominium in Thailand, always check that the common land, water and electricity will not be controlled by the developer. Some developers will seek to profit on utilities by marking up their cost and pocketing the difference.

6. Be wary of ‘foreign villages or mubans’

Bear in mind that if you buy property inside a 'foreign village or muban', that you will not have Thais to help you if the deal goes belly up. Living with foreigners is no guarantee that you will have good neighbours. It is often the reverse.

7. Be mindful when paying a deposit 

If you are paying a deposit for a house or property, then make sure that you receive a receipt, or preferably a signed contract which clearly stipulates that a deposit has been paid. Do not pay a deposit before you have received legal advice on the proposition from a lawyer.

Whenever you are parting with money in Thailand, whether for a product, service, or especially as a deposit of any type, do not expect that you will be able to receive a refund.

8. Check the surrounding area

When you are deciding to purchase a property in Thailand, be very mindful about the surrounding area. Consider taking a drive around the local vicinity during a storm – does water drain off the roads or are the roads flooded and impassable? If the road leading to your property turns into a river during heavy rain, then you may feel as though you have been scammed. 

Car stuck on a flooded road in Thailand

Photo: Thailand tends to experience a lot of rainfall during the wet season. Make sure that the infrastructure in your area is capable of adequately dispersing the water.

It’s also worthwhile being mindful of vacant land surrounding your development. Especially in metropolitan areas, land is often bought up and developed with little notice. If your property has a sea view, could that be removed or tainted by a nearby development?

9. Speak to the local people

This may seem like a frivolous point, however speaking to the local people in any given area can often uncover many details which you would never find out by researching a property or area through the internet. Local people will be fully aware of the pitfalls of their area and any potential issues with your chosen development. Thais are friendly people and will typically be glad to share their opinions and the local gossip. Suffice it to say that you will need a Thai person to help you make these inquiries if you are unable to speak the Thai language.

This is definitely a taboo subject, however, if you are purchasing an apartment or a condominium unit on a high floor, especially in location such as Pattaya, you should be mindful that no-one has previously committed suicide in or from the unit. Most Thai people are highly superstitious and would not dream of living in a unit where a suicide has previously taken place. Even if it doesn’t bother you, you might struggle to resell such a unit.

We suggest conducting your own research by speaking with other people in your building or development, in addition to the obvious due diligence checks which should be conducted by your lawyer.

10. Be skeptical of ‘guaranteed returns’

If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You would be wise to harbour a deep scepticism for developers or agencies which offer ‘guaranteed rental returns’ on property investments. Some developers may claim that they can guarantee annual returns of up to 10%, or more in some cases; which would mean recouping 100% of your investment over a decade. 

Ask yourself, what is being guaranteed and by whom? Is the guarantee being offered by a bank or financial institution, or is it being underwritten by a development company which has no real capital?

Due to the strict libel laws in Thailand, it would be deeply unwise to point fingers at specific schemes which have collapsed over the years. We suggest that the best defence in most cases is your own common sense.

11. Don’t buy property in someone else’s name

Last but not least, we would suggest that you never purchase a property in someone else’s name, unless you accept that it will truly be their property and that they can ask you to leave at any time. If you decide to take this path, then you should at least arrange to formally lease the property back from them for however long you intend to live there.

Purchasing a property in the name of your Thai wife might afford more legal protection than if the property is placed in your girlfriend’s name, however, this is a complicated legal matter for which you should seek advice from a qualified lawyer - this article does not constitute legal advice.


Hiring a nanny or housekeeper/maid in Thailand

August 27, 2021 - Reading time: 9 minutes

Many foreigners that decide to relocate to Thailand will take the step of hiring a Thai nanny or housekeeper/maid. The cost of labour in Thailand is generally lower than in Western countries, and this is especially true for menial work. Hiring a nanny or housekeeper here, to help look after children, or for help with housework, is an affordable luxury for many expatriates.

Allowing a stranger into your home, and trusting them with your children or belongings is a big deal for many people. As a detective agency, we are occasionally asked to investigate thefts which were thought to have been committed by domestic workers. As such, we have put together this article on hiring nannies, housekeepers or maids, with a focus on safety and diligence.

Salary for a nanny or housekeeper/maid in Thailand

How much does it cost to hire a nanny/housekeeper or maid? When hiring staff in Thailand, you will obviously need to pay them at least the minimum wage, which varies depending upon the Thai province you are based in. A housekeeper would typically earn slightly more than the minimum wage, and salaries for nannies are understandably higher, depending on the duties you require them for.

If your nanny is looking after a new born, then expect to pay them a higher salary than if they are tending to older children. It’s also normal for English speaking workers to come with a slightly higher price tag.

Although there are many variables at play when hiring domestic workers, the following chart can help to act as a rough guide: 

Salaries for nannies and housekeepers in Thailand

Many factors can influence salaries, such as the area of Thailand you are in, as well as your worker’s past experience, the duties they will be expected to carry out, and the level of English spoken by them.

Safety when hiring a nanny or housekeeper

This is a subject that you will not see broached in most other articles on the subject of hiring workers in Thailand. However, we feel it is important to be mindful when allowing strangers into your home, and that you take suitable steps to protect yourself should anything go awry.

For starters, whenever you are employing a Thai nanny, maid, or housekeeper, you should ask them to provide you with a copy of their Thai national ID card. 

Whether or not you decide to sign a formal contract with your worker, you should always retain a copy of their ID card. This is perfectly normal for employers in Thailand and your nanny or housekeeper should have no issues with providing a copy of their ID card.

If you have any issues with your nanny or housekeeper down the road, such as theft from your property, then your copy of their identity card will prove vital. However, be aware that counterfeits are easy to come by in Thailand and fake ID cards are common, especially for migrants that might not in the country legally. In areas such as Khaosod Road for example, vendors can be found openly selling fake documents and identity cards. If you are found to be employing an illegal immigrant, then you might find yourself in trouble with the authorities.

We can help to check that the ID card is genuine by verifying it against official records.

Criminal background check

We can also help to run a criminal record check on your nanny or housekeeper in order to verify that they are not entering your home from a criminal background, and that they do not have any outstanding arrest warrants. 

Running a criminal background check on your workers is always a wise decision. If you are hiring a nanny who will be tasked with looking after your children, then we suggest it is even more vital.

Pre-employment screening is one of our most popular services. If you are on the brink of hiring a nanny, housekeeper, or any Thai staff, and would like to check their criminal records before deciding to hire, then feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced team members for a free quote. We will seek to offer the best and most affordable solution in your case.

If you choose to run a background check on your nanny or housekeeper, then you will be expected to pay for it yourself.

Tips for hiring a nanny or housekeeper/maid

  • Outline your requirements before hiring

Before hiring a nanny or housekeeper, make sure that they totally understand your requirements and what will be expected of them. Explain to them in detail what an average day will entail and your expectations for them. Run everything by them beforehand and don’t leave anything to chance.

  • Pay your staff well

Paying your staff the absolute minimum amount will likely result in them leaving you for a better paid position when the opportunity arises. If you intend to retain your staff long term, and keep their morale and eagerness to work high, then award them with a good salary.

  • Give respect, get respect

Treat your workers kindly and with respect. Speak to them politely – it will go a long way. Be aware that many Thai people find swearing to be highly offensive. If your housekeeper or nanny goes above and beyond their duties, then consider giving them a small tip. They will appreciate the gesture.

  • Respect their time off

When your staff are not working, be that out of their allotted time on a workday or during public holidays, don’t expect them to carry out any duties for you. 

Many Thais leave their families to work in metropolitan areas and use public holidays to return home and visit their families. Keep this in mind when requesting them to work overtime.

  • Check their references

Thai people are hard workers. However, not all of them are! You would be wise to check the references of your Thai nannies or housekeepers in order to learn more about their previous conduct before deciding to hire them.

If needed, we can also help to carry out reference checks for you.

Normal working hours

A full time house keeper, maid, or nanny in Thailand will typically expect to work 9 hours per day Monday to Friday with a 1 hour break each day, and half a day on Saturday. A minimum of 1 day off per week is required, though you may be able to negotiate overtime occasionally for extra pay.

In addition, your worker will also be entitled to public holidays off, such as the following:

  • His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s birthday – July 28
  • His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday – December 5
  • Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana's Birthday – June 3
  • May Day – May 1 (or the Monday after if the 1st is during a weekend)
  • Coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn – May 4
  • Coronation Day – May 5
  • Songkran (water festival) 13–15 April (dates may vary slightly)
  • New Year’s Eve – 31 December
  • New Year’s Day – 1 January
  • Chulalongkorn Day – 22/23 October

This is not a full list of public holidays in Thailand! There are several other public holidays however we have listed some of the most prominent dates.

As Thai people often work long hours and with little time off, they typically relish the opportunity to rest during public holidays. You should discuss and agree upon which dates your worker will be expected to work at the time of hiring them. 

Employment background screening

Learn more about employment background screening.


Can I trust my Thai girlfriend?

August 25, 2021 - Reading time: 9 minutes

Many Thai women are honest and trustworthy; however, when searching for a Thai partner you need to look in the right places and be aware of warning signs which might indicate that she is not trustworthy... Can I trust my Thai girlfriend? The answer to this question will depend on many different variables which we will explore deeper in this article.

It’s important to realize that professional romance scammers are just that – professionals. They become experts at finding foreign boyfriends and gaining their trust. The “Thai lady romance scam” will typically involve a Thai woman recruiting several different foreign boyfriends, who all believe that they are her only partner. When this scam is successful, it can allow the Thai lady responsible to earn vast amounts of money.

Most men will believe that it “could never happen to them”, and it is this type of mentality which helps romance scams to flourish and go undetected before it’s too late.

Thai girlfriend from internet dating

A person using a chat application on a cell phone

If you have met your Thai girlfriend through an internet dating site or app, then it can be very difficult to judge her trustworthiness. It’s easy for Thai ladies to tell lies about their lives and circumstances, if you have not yet met her in real life then checking the facts can be virtually impossible unless you hire a private investigator.

A large proportion of romance scams investigated by us originate through online dating.

If your Thai girlfriend works in a bar, and is frequently sleeping with different men in order to earn a living, she will never admit this on internet dating websites. Instead, the lady will claim to work a respectable job at a coffee shop, salon, or retail store, for example. Over the years we have seen many cases where Thai women posed for photos while wearing work uniforms belonging to their friends in order to make their stories seem believable. How can you find out her true profession? Most men will not question claims made by an attractive Thai lady.

Another common trick is for Thai ladies to lie about their circumstances. For example, if a lady has 2 or 3 children, she will understand that this will make her unattractive to many foreign guys on internet dating sites… Instead, she might claim not to have any children, or tell you that she has one child when she in fact has more. If you decide to visit Thailand then you might visit a city away from her family back in the village, or she might claim that she is looking after children on behalf of relatives. Unless you visit Thailand and can speak Thai, how would you ever know the truth? We often use background checks to check the circumstances of Thai women on behalf of our clients.

Taking people on face value is easy to do, especially if they are an attractive female, and romance scammers will take advantage of this as they use dating sites to look for potential victims.

Thai girlfriend working in a bar 

Bars in a red light area of Thailand

If your Thai girlfriend works in a beer bar, a go-go bar, or a club, then you cannot trust her, period. Ladies that work in these types of establishments earn their money by leaving the bar with clients.

If your girlfriend claims that she is working in a bar as a cashier, or that she “doesn’t go with customers”, the odds are that she is lying. Most of the time when we are asked to check on bar girls they are very happy to leave the bar with our agents, despite what they tell their boyfriends.

Bar girls are also more likely to be involved in romance scams. By working in bars, ladies are able to forge many relationships with many different men, and can earn huge amounts of money in some cases by having several foreign boyfriends.

Thai girlfriend lives in Pattaya

The sign for Pattaya Thailand illuminated at night

If your Thai girlfriend lives in Pattaya city then you should not trust her. Pattaya is known the world over for its night life scene and sex industry. There is estimated to be a staggering 27,000 prostitutes working in Pattaya.

Even if your girlfriend does not work in a bar, go-go or massage parlour, she could still meet men by ‘freelancing’ in popular nightclubs or bars. Many of the ladies that work regular jobs in Pattaya top up their incomes by freelancing in the evenings and at weekends.

You should also be wary if your girlfriend lives in Phuket, or on one of the Thai islands that are setup for tourists. Whilst certain areas of Bangkok and Chiang Mai also have large nightlife scenes, prostitution is not as prevalent in these locations as it is in Pattaya or Phuket.

Thai girlfriend has tattoos or smokes cigarettes

Thai woman with tattoos on her back and arm

While having tattoos or smoking cigarettes might not be a big deal for females in most Western countries, in Thailand either trait can act as a sign that your Thai girlfriend works (or previously worked) in the sex industry. For more information on this subject, read our article Signs that she is not a good Thai girl.

Thai girlfriend works at a massage parlour

A person receiving a Thai massage

Thai massage is famous all around the world. In Thailand however, there are many different forms of massage. There are traditional massage shops, where the ladies are usually found wearing traditional masseuse outfits, however, there are also ‘soapy massage’ parlours, and more informal shops which might offer more than just a simple rub down.

Women that work at traditional massage parlours typically receive formal training – they attend massage schools where they learn their trade, and can prove that they are qualified by showing their training certificates.

Shops where the ladies are not wearing uniforms are more likely to offer ‘extra’ services; however, traditional massage shops can sometimes offer additional services as well. Much depends on the discretion of the lady and the services that she chooses to offer.

Thai girlfriend attends university

A Thai university student

If your Thai girlfriend is genuinely attending university, then this is obviously a good sign that she is working towards a better future for herself, and that she is financially stable enough to afford her tuition and expenses. 

Ask yourself how your girlfriend is able to cover her costs – is her family wealthy? Does her family home convey relative opulence, or is it a wooden shack with a rusty tin roof that needs repair? If your answer is the latter, then you should question how she is able to afford university. 

Of course, we have also seen many cases involving fake university students, where some ladies will pose for photos in university campuses, while they actually work in red light areas. 

Check your Thai girlfriend

If you really need to answer the question of whether or not you should trust your Thai girlfriend, then we can help by running a background check on her and finding out if her claims turn out to be true or not. We can also provide other forms of infidelity investigation, such as surveillance. Much depends on the circumstances and the needs of our client in each case. 

We offer free, no pressure quotes for all work, and all contact with our agency is strictly private and confidential. Please get in touch with us with information on your situation and see how we can help in your case.


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