The following warning about a dealer in Thailand is not just a tale about how I was duped, but to help keep others from falling prey to the same criminals.
In the middle of August (2010), I found a link to a dealer advertising buprestids from PNG with prices that turned out to be too good to be true. A quick reply to my request for a species and price list arrived and the dealing began. I selected the species and the number of specimens, paid the price and waited. At first I was told to send the money to the dealer’s wife in Thailand, but a day later, after I had sent it, I was told his wife was ill and couldn’t pick it up, so would I change the pickup name to his daughter, which I did. The next day I received messages from the dealer and a woman in Cameroun asking me to pay for “refundable insurance” which I was promised would be repaid once the parcel was delivered to me. I refused as it was already starting to seem fishy. After a number of excuses, the dealer told me that he would pay to have the shipment returned and then would find another shipping company. Two days later he asked me to pay for the shipment via EMS and asked me to send the payment not to him, but this time to the EMS agent in Bangkok. So this I did, since we never had agreed on who would pay the shipping. In the meantime I was being told that his friends were returning from PNG and might have additional specimens if I was interested. And he hoped that we could do much business in the future. But then after I paid the shipping charge, he told me that he had gotten that money from the EMS agent so that he could buy the extra specimens from his friends or else they would have sold them to someone else. He would make this up to me by including specimens from Malaysia, but could I pay him for the shipping again and he would send the parcel. This resulted in several days of a heated dispute, but stupid me, I wore out and sent the shipping money again, and again to the EMS agent. Then after two days the shipping agent told me that the parcel had been sent to London by mistake and was held in customs because the shipping documents and the wildlife permits were not correct. I needed to pay a fee to obtain a wildlife permit and get the shipping documents corrected so that all matched to clear both British and U.S. Customs. I refused, saying that it was the dealer’s problem to arrange such documentation and any change to Thai laws was their problem to know about and adapt to. Several further days of dispute, no involvement from the dealer who was reportedly gone to the forest to collect and couldn’t be contacted. As I continued to refuse to send anymore money, I was threatened by the EMS agent who would turn in the dealer to Thai authorities and report me to the FBI alleging that we were smuggling ivory out of Thailand and into the U.S. When I told him that I would welcome a visit from the FBI, he changed tactics and tried to pressure me by saying that if I didn’t pay to resolve the permits and documents that the London EMS office would just destroy the parcel and all of the specimens. I refused and reminded the agent and anyone else ‘listening’ that I had each and every email with all of the names of this masterful fraud and would be posting them to the internet to warn others off and perhaps just bring down their house of cards. Two weeks went by and my open letter to the dealer resulted in a “I’ve just returned, what is the problem”. When my reply was “you have my money, but you haven’t shipped my purchase”, silence again resulted. The most recent message told me that the dealer needs $300 to resolve the permit problem; I repeated the message “you have all of the money you will see from me until I have received the promised parcel.” It has now been nearly six weeks since my first payment and I suspect that this will not resolve in my favor, either with a refund or the belated arrival of the specimens I bought. So buyer(s) beware, below are the names, locations and several email addresses of the main players in this drama:
Mr. Sapawan Yanthai, the dealer, central figure and apparently the proprietor of Sapawan Entom Supplies (44587, Soi 4, Bangkok City, Thailand), email: email@example.com; the wife, Mrs Napawan Sirikan; the daughter, Somkid Pongpart; the Atlantic Worldwide Delivery contact, Mrs. Veronica Ezigha Ndze at the Douala, Cameroon international airport; the EMS office (possibly fraudulent, but possibly at Heathrow airport near London) email: EMSdeliveryservice@AviationEmail.com and the EMS agent at the Thai Postal Service, Mr. Djilo Dieudonne (EMS Office, P/O Box 8876, Bangkok City, Thailand), email: firstname.lastname@example.org