Bangkok’s infamous gem scam has ruined the holidays of many visitors to Thailand. It’s a great example of the weapons of influence in action. I’ve included these throughout the story.
The con-artists always target first-time arrivals (The backdrop is uncertainty which opens people to influence) New arrivals are surprised at the friendliness of people in the Land of Smiles. (Liking)
It usually starts with a male stranger approaching you, often in uniform (Authority), and telling you that you can’t go in at the moment. In the vast majority of cases, there is absolutely no truth. It’s just a ruse to get you started in conversation with them.
Not wanting to offend or appear ignorant (Consistency), you let them talk you out of going to where you intended to go.
But not to worry, your new friend knows somewhere equally impressive that is still open – “the famous 100m high Standing Buddha temple”. It’s not mentioned in your guidebook for some reason, but he will kindly mark the location on your map. He may also casually talk about a special promotion on gems that is on today but will put no pressure on you to buy any. (Scarcity)
After another 5 or 10 minutes of conversation, he will usually offer to arrange a tuk-tuk ride for you to the new temple at a bargain price (Scarcity). Explaining that tuk-tuks overcharge tourists and so he can get that the price that cheap for you because he is Thai (Liking).
After your visit to the fake temple, you are taken to the gem shop. You are well looked after with personal service from the manager, free drinks etc. (Reciprocation) What follows is a high-pressure sales pitch. The gem shops often pay lowlife foreigners to linger in their shop posing as a customer and casually mention to you that for years they have bought Thai gems from this shop (Social Proof). For many people, the knowledge that a fellow foreigner has done it successfully is what finally persuades them to buy (Social Proof).
Learn more about the Weapons of Influence here