How the scam works:
You're visiting Thailand and you want to get around quickly but don't want to rent a car, so you decide to get a bike or a moped. You go to the rental agency, pick out a bike, test-drive it and sign the agreement. It mentions that if the bike is lost or damaged, the renter is required to pay the full amount for the bike. You figure that's a standard clause and you sign it (besides, how would you lose a bike?).
You leave the office and barely have the bike out for two hours when you walk into a store to grab some food, come out and find the bike missing. You must have the worst luck in the world, you think.
Little did you know, it’s a common scam in Thailand and even in Italy, that companies send somebody to follow you, with keys. They waited for you to leave the bike alone for a few minutes and they use the spare keys to hop on and drive off. Meanwhile, you will have to pay the full amount of the bike. Many companies make most of their money this way and they might even have local authorities involved.
Another common scam committed by shady rental centres is to disable the gas level indicator, so you will never know how much gas you have in your tank. This way, they will syphon the tank the second you bring the bike back. They will accuse you of not filling it up before returning it and charge you accordingly.
How to avoid:
Keep an eye on your rental equipment at all times. Never rent from businesses that have small offices (one little room in the corner of a street)–always go for established companies.
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