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WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

San Jose, California
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WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

Well... I guess I should have been a little more careful but today I learned a valuable lesson in using ATMs. It's best to use one at a bank or trustworthy location.

I arrived this evening at Koh Samui airport and in need of Thai Baht, I went to a Siam Commercial bank ATM that was next to a bunch of other ATMs at the meeting point area after you come out of Arrivals.

I put in my US ATM card which the ATM recognized and accepted. Thankfully, the ATM also gave back your card after you've swiped it - like most modern ATMs. Went through all the usual withdrawal steps and just before it was to spit out the money, the ATM and all the ATMs next to it lost power for a brief 2-3 seconds.

After that, I knew that I've been had. It was too coincidental that a brief power outage (as it someone pulled the plug and then plugged it back in immediately) would happen just as it was going to give me the money. The ATMs are in a very public area and what you do can easily be observed. There were a few guys standing by the taxi desk and they look pretty interested in what I was doing - but of course, there's not much I can do nor were there help around.

When the ATM regained power, the internal system rebooted itself (it's a Windows OS) and in a few minutes, it was ready to be used again by another unsuspecting fool like me. And no, it didn't start sending out any money and so, I don't know exactly what the scam intentions are i.e. was it to collect my card number and PIN, or for the ATM machine to keep the money that it didn't give out or is there a way for someone else to collect the cash later... I don't know.

I went online and checked my bank account, and unfortunately, $350 USD (equivalent to 10,000 Thai Baht) was withdrawn at that ATM. I contacted my bank to freeze the account and I'm hoping I can resolve the issue with Siam Commercial bank on Monday when they open - since it looks like their ATM kept my 10K baht.

Lesson learned. Be forewarned!

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

I think you're awfully quick to jump to the conclusion that you've been scammed.

Power issues are ongoing and have been for some time on Samui so you may well have just been a victim of bad luck rather than a scam that no one else to date has ever posted about.

I hope you get a satisfactory result from the bank and if not you may well be able to retrieve your lost funds through your travel insurance.

New Milton, United...
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2. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

atm machines/any computer systems are normally backed up by a ups system

an "Un- interuptable Power Supply"

it runs alongside the normal power suppy and has battery back up

it takes over a power outage, the equipment can run for about 3 hours or more

i smell something fishy

welcome to los(land of smiles)or

the land of scams

Edited: 4:36 pm, February 23, 2013
MelbourneAustralia
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3. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

Bit harsh Andy tagging Thai as the land of scams, plenty of other places around the world that are a lot worse. Perhaps in the UK ATM's may have UPS but certainly not where I work and am involved with contractors that install ATM's in our centre. Given that more than one ATM lost power I would suggest that it was more like Matt was suggesting that typical of power reliability issues.

If it was a scam and the ATM held the cash instead of dispensing it, how would the so called scammers get the cash ? For the ATM to hold the cash and not dispense it would have to be down to the seconds in terms of timing when to turn it off. Banks monitor ATM's and can check cash held, vs dispensed and reconcile and suggest that the Bank will reimburse the transaction as soon as they are approached and they do the necessary checks.

The real "scams" with ATM'S happen more so in Bangkok where people are watching ATM's and if they get a clear view of the PIN being entered have people follow the person and pick pocket for the card in busy areas such as markets and stalls and then double back with the card to get money. Allways cover the keypad as you enter your PIN!

Mildura, Australia
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4. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

I agree with Melbourne traveller, having worked for a major bank for 12 years (and being on a team that reconciled and fixed faults etc) there was no back up power supply. If the power went out, the ATM shut down immediately. The machines are reconciled each day and discrepancies would then be traced. Also, without a power failure, if anyone reported not being paid, the machine would be counted to check. Yes, there are scams in Thailand but airport staff having access to a major banks ATM is a bit of a stretch. I would also think that if this has being going on as a scam, there would have been many people on the forums reporting. OP, I hope your visit to the bank goes well. I am sorry that this happened at the beginning of your holiday.

New Milton, United...
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5. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

good reply melb traveller

i don,t suppose we will ever get to the bottom of the problem(pompem in thai)

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

Well said MT & Allie, apparently the sky isnt falling and good to see not everyone who replies defaults to thinking the thais are scamming all farangs.

SJ-JC please let us know how you go with the ATM bank on Monday.

South Australia...
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7. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

I don't think it is a scam at all, same thing happened to us in Bali, no problems, our bank handled it when we arrived home & the money was put back into our account.

Cathy

perth
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for Ko Samui, Thailand
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8. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

Hi

Got to get on board ...well said from every one except Andy 53, any headlines with the words " warning " for sure Andy will pounced on it. Thailand is so bad he just can't stay away from it :-)

SJ-JC good luck and as Matt says please let know how you get on with the bank.

Edited: 11:16 pm, February 23, 2013
Tongson bay, koh...
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9. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

hi all

just to let you know that monday is a buddha holiday and banks may well be having a day off

so try again on tuesday to check your ATM problem

cheers DC

perth
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for Ko Samui, Thailand
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10. Re: WARNING: Avoid cash withdrawals at Koh Samui airport ATMs

Yes the bank is closed today. Its Makha Bucha day one of significant day in Buddhist calendar.