Perhaps you'd like to know what happened after I was robbed at Bangkok Airport security last month. Well, the saga continued with more “investigations” and a mysterious wire transfer. Transparency is not the first word that comes to mind.
Inconclusive Investigation = Refund?
Two days after the incident, I had a conversation with the security manager – let’s call him Mr. X – from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Mr. X confirmed that the investigation into the theft continued and the results thereof remained unclear.
However, he also indicated that the security company would forward my claim to their insurance company.
“How would you like us to reimburse you?” he asked. Returning to Bangkok was not in our plans, so I suggested a wire transfer to my bank account in the U.S.
While I was pleased by the swiftness of the planned reimbursement, I found this whole scenario curious. If there were any doubts as to the validity of my claim, why would the security company hastily forward it to their insurance broker for payment?
Sketchy Bank Transfer
I calculated an amount that would restore the lost cash to my money belt, taking into account inbound wire transfer fees and ATM withdrawal fees. After a series of SMSs, emails and telephone exchanges regarding these details, I waited. At that point, my goal was to recover the money first and ask questions later. All the while, I was continually told that the ongoing investigations remained “inconclusive.”
Eventually, my bank account reflected an incoming wire transfer in the agreed amount. However, the bank records indicated that the transfer was from Mr. X himself, not from a named corporate account (e.g., the security company or the insurance broker).
Consider this: the investigation was inconclusive, but I had just received a wire transfer from the security manager’s personal account. This struck me as odd.
Looking for Closure
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very happy that my money was returned and I realize that only a tiny percentage of thefts are ever resolved so quickly and so favorably. But there’s the pesky little issue of the fact that I was the victim of a crime. Not only did I want my money back, but I also wanted to know the results of the investigation; I had hoped, perhaps naively, to press charges against the thief.
Think about it. If someone breaks into your home and is subsequently caught, you not only have the right to recover your stolen goods (which in my experience rarely ever happens), but you also have the right to press charges against the person who committed the crime.
In that vein, I emailed Mr. X:
“I would also like to know the findings and outcome of the investigation. Could you please send me a scanned copy of the police report?”
I felt this was a fair request, particularly given that both the duty officer and Mr. X indicated repeatedly that this case would go to the police and that I would be allowed to see the results of the investigation once it concluded.
Mr. X responded:
“With appreciated that you have received the transfer money and then the further process will be with my Insurance Broker Which they said will not interfere you anymore then if any change will update.”
I roughly translated this to mean: “please get off my back so we can sweep this under the rug without drawing any additional attention to the nice little rip-off scam you have uncovered.”
Can you tell that I don’t buy the “one bad apple” theory in this case?
I followed-up by email and SMS:
“I understand that the insurance broker no longer needs my input or information. However, I was the victim of a crime. My request to see a copy of the police report seems a fair and reasonable one.”
After allowing these messages to simmer in Mr. X’s email and SMS inboxes, I followed-up with the duty manager whom I originally dealt with at the airport. In remarkably circular fashion, she suggested I contact Mr. X.
Mr. X never responded. After my follow-ups last week, there’s been nothing but silence.
Leave Well-Enough Alone?
So I have my money. Most people would suggest that I should be satisfied and, in turn, leave well-enough alone. As I indicated in Part 1, however, I’m willing to bet my time and my energy that I’m not the only victim of this scam.
Something also tells me that this story doesn’t end here. Stay tuned.