Foreign Teacher Scam in Thailand

FOREIGN TEACHER SCAM IN THAILAND – With the looming membership into the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Thailand desperately needs to educate its population with the skill of speaking the English language.

Whist other neighbouring nations long ago adopted the policy of teaching English in their schools Thailand’s nationalistic belief that English was not an important issue now leaves it in a precarious situation; for the Thai Government now fully realizes just how critical this element is to enable Thailand to compete on an international level with other AEC members.

The Thai Government, over the past 3 years, has continuously spoken of change in the education system and yet little has been achieved to advance the learning of the English language in schools.

Late last year the Thai Government announced measures to make special working visas for foreign nationals, whose native language is English, to come to Thailand and work in schools.

Nearly one year on and with the Thai Government pushing back its inauguration into AEC, little appears to have been achieved; leaving many to suspect that the Thai Government, come 2016, will again delay its presence in the AEC.

The official Thai slogan for Thailand, or at least one of them, is ‘The Land of Smiles’. Unfortunately it is nothing unusual to see this slogan twisted into ‘The Land of Scams’ as Thais are often accused of scamming foreign nationals out of their money.

With the education of paramount importance you might think that the Thai Government would do more to bring in foreign nationals and ensure that such an industry is tightly regulated so as to avoid abuse and therefore more bad press.

Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be the case as one ‘Foreign Teacher Placement Scheme’ appears to be nothing more than another scam on foreign nationals and if such a practice is allowed to continue it will be little wonder that the Thai Government are unable to attract qualified English speaking teachers to teach in Thailand.

During our investigation we took at look at complaintsboard.com which details a number of very disgruntled, angry and disillusioned foreign teachers; all of whom have had dealings with a certain individual and company.

The scam appears to be an easy one in that certain individuals, representing companies put up advertisements on Craiglist for English speaking foreign teachers.

It is often the case that foreign teachers are never provided with the proper documentation, which is a work permit, to allow them to legally work in Thailand.  Other areas of complaints from those having dealings certain individuals and companies often revolve around the issue of not being paid.

Whilst certain individuals and companies are provided with payment from the schools in which they have contracts it is alledged the money often goes straight in their pocket and many foreign teachers have been fleeced out of their rightful salaries.

The scam appears to be like a revolving door in that one teacher is brought in, never paid, and then resigns without any form of payment and is then replaced with his next unsuspecting victim.

Obviously the education establishments, where certain individuals and companies have contracts, are aware of the issue but many foreign teachers have expressed their anger that not only do the schools not take positive action they suspect the administrators are in on the scam; that is they are taking a cut from the money making scheme.

Here are a number of other instances of the scam:

Foreign teachers not getting paid – complaintsboard.com

Foreigners speaking out about the scam – iformative.com

Foreign teachers warning others about the scam – exact-academy

The examples are just the tip of the iceberg and anyone thinking of becoming a foreign English teacher in Thailand should Google the individual or any of the companies first so as to realise the true nature of this scam and avoid it.

Victims of this scam are spreading the word as much as possible and if the Thai Government fail to act this could well have a devastating effect on its ability to attract English teachers.

The Thai Government also needs to be fully aware that they are no longer able to suppress information on the internet and whilst they actively continue to block certain websites these are still available worldwide and therefore the message continues to propagate.

The issue here is a double edged sword for if foreign teachers are put off by scams, such as this, it will have a defined impact on the level of education. On a wider issue the lack of education within the Thai population will not allow them to successfully compete with other AEC members it will ultimately have an erroneous impact on the Thai economy.

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  • Fred Mallard

    BR Language School,
    Phetchaburi (Thailand) [Teaching Agency]

    Please be warned: Never sign up with this company! They deduct 20,000 baht from your first month’s salary (calling it a deposit). I’ve now completed a full year of teaching (May 2013 until February 2014- end of the sch. year). I have asked for my deposit and now, shock horror, they REFUSE to give it back!

    Also, you will be out of work for 6 weeks in September/October (no pay). They don’t pay for sick days either. Additionally, they are the only teaching agency to deduct a percentage of your salary for so called tax…

    If you try to contact them it’s nigh on impossible: they’re rarely at their office; they don’t reply to e-mails; and they very rarely answer the phone or sms u back!

    I know of many past teachers who have worked for them who have been treated very badly too. It’s much better to apply directly with the schools in the area. Please stay well away from these cowboys!!!

    • Fred Mallard

      —-UPDATE—-

      For anyone interested in filing a complaint with the Labour Department, here’s a progress report.

      I went to the local Phetchaburi Labour Welfare and Protection Department on Monday (24 March 2014) to lodge a complaint about the teaching agency. I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and helpful they were. Without waiting, an officer interviewed me about my situation (luckily, she spoke some English!). The previous evening I sent the department an e-mail detailing my problems. I was happy to see the officer had it to hand when I sat down. Good start!

      After presenting a print-out of e-mails I sent to the agency in the last couple of weeks, and providing more details verbally, the officer tried to contact my agency by phone, but alas, not surprisingly, no answer. A bilingual Thai friend also explained to the officer, on the phone, my situation, ensuring full understanding.

      The officer asked me to come back, with my Thai friend, in the next couple of days, bringing any payslips from the agency to prove my relationship with them (the agency never having provided me with a written contract or even a letter acknowledging I work for them!). The officer provided me with her direct number and explained she was a ‘legal officer.’ When I left the office I felt very positive and assured she was on my side:-)

      Today, Wednesday, I returned to the Labour Department, with my Thai friend. The legal officer explained she’s been trying to contact the agency yet still can not make any contact! I was given an official complaint form to fill in (in English) along with a Thai language version of the form, which my friend translated and filled in for me.

      The legal officer will now send an official letter to my agency. She informed me she will call me when there are any further developments. I was advised if the matter is not resolved soon I should go directly to the Labour Court who will assign me a lawyer (for free!;) who will then take over the responsibility.

      So, thus far, the ball’s rolling, I’ve been grateful and relieved with the process, and feel confident I can resolve this issue. Additionally, my high school has been supportive and advised me the principal can contact the agency on my behalf to persuade the agency to return my deposit.

      I will keep u posted…

  • heresthetwist

    90% of the westerners that go to Thailand. go to molest little kids. this guy is probably considered a national hero in Thailand.

  • millionaire

    I have had an experienced of being scammed by an agency but twas another agency yet the same problem I’ve got. We have to spread this issue to teach the Thai scammers per se that they’re destroying their country in doing this, and this would greatly affect their level of English Language proficiency as a whole.

    • beenthere

      Spread the word yes, and it helps making business harder for them. The main problem of course are these schools doing business with agencies and keeping these agencies alive. Somehow they gain profit through this system or there are other benefits. Both school and agency protect this system, even if it means that the teacher or even teachers don’t get money at all and loose their job. Within a few hours teachers are replaced by new ones. It’s a widespread problem and it happends to all sorts of teachers from many countries and not just in Thailand.
      People should spread the word about these schools as well because they keep this system alive…most jobs are found through the internet so thats the place to start spreading!

      • axysa

        I know at least 3 schools who are doing these kind of things for years and to multiple persons while knowing teachers wouldn’t get their money from the agency. Schools like ChanHunBamPhen School or Chan Hun BamPhen School, Sarawittaya School and Streesmutprakan School. The agent(s) is still there because these schools kept him – them in business by sending money every month according the so called BS contract! No respect…

        • Cliff Carbaugh

          Thanks for the info axysa. I’ll watch-out for those schools!

        • jacko

          Large schools like Sara wittaya and Streesmutprakan School Bangkok don’t really care about foreigners and salaries. They tend to worry about Thai culture and Thai kids a lot more, they leave the other foreign issues to the agency. Without a blink of an eye they send salaries to the agent no matter how many teachers complained or were not getting paid. High turnover of teachers…all blamed on the foreigners and if possible on the agent but never on the school. Nothing much has changed there. Never have seen them upset about it too. Have seen them upset about one thing only…guess what it is…..THEIR NAME ON THE INTERNET!

  • http://www.meebal.com/ meebal

    Thanks for the comment but we really can’t take much of the credit. The information was passed to use by a teacher who got bitten and then a few others. The article really was a collective effort and again highlights the need for people to bring such instances to light – meebal.com is simply the catalyst.

    Appreciate your comment and we’ll continue to bring to light things people find important.

  • Gravy Train
    • http://www.meebal.com/ meebal

      We took a look at the link but can’t confirm the connection. It could be that he’s using another alias. Regardless this is yet another example so thanks for your contribution – the more we know the easier it is to avoid.

      • smartkurve-scam

        Some eMail examples from kirk pathumanun and his smartkurve agency

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhLvvY0RNJY

        A case study in effective management. Or mismanagement. A comedy of errors that just ain’t all that funny. Or that might be funny if it weren’t true. An extraordinary situation that is sadly not unique. The reverse of the ฿100 note pictures King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) freeing the slaves, but not everybody in Thailand has heard the news. Actual E-Mails from SmartKurve…

      • JP

        Agency ESLThailand, Edknovate, Axiom, Double knowledge or Smartkurve is also using the names Quest club, Quest language or Quest Language Club. Do not work for these people nes teachers, you will not get paid or worse! Beware with Jobs in Bangkok and teaching in Thailand. Google NES Teachers Needed Immediately (Bangkok, Thailand)
        The last message of unhealthy minister suwit khunkitti -

        Hello All,

        This is a final notice to you all from the office of Suwit Khukitti, down below is the link that stated that not only you have not stop slanders that related to the company where HE Suwit has direct interested and also you are colluding in a consipiracy to attack on a corporate entity without legal proof. As of yesterday Samutprakhan Royal Police has recieve our complaint and they will arrest Mr Fogo as for further processing of his slander remarks. Any individuals who assistant and involve with him will be prosecuted by the fullest extents of Thai law and your information have already been passed to the immigrations and the police which we reserve the rights to press charges against you at anytime…

        This is a final warning from the office of HE Suwit Khunkitti.

        • mark shane

          go to hell Suwit Khunkitti

  • http://www.skokwbokblog.com/ Maciej Klimowicz

    This guy has been around forever.

    Anybody scammed should go straight to the Department of Labour – they help.

    • http://www.meebal.com/ meebal

      That’s great news. This clearly shows that not everyone is corrupt or on the take. It also shows that some people want to help so that foreign teachers can teach the kids that will help them progress their skills.

      Thanks for the insight.

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  • worldview

    Wow since when meebal has reduced its credibility to a shrewd petty blog talking about a scam with its claim from complaint sites lol ? This is pretty pathetic seriously, if you really want to present your righteous view on the poor state of Thai education please so with an objective view with RELIABLE SOURCES. Here is a tip, like Thai people are ever going to give a damn and ranting would help the situation.

    • http://www.meebal.com/ meebal

      Reliable sources…. righteous views… did you read what you just wrote?

      • worldview

        YES which is a deficiency of this article Mr Moderator. Perhaps a cup of tea for your thought with some crumpets ?

        • http://www.meebal.com/ meebal

          I think you are missing the point old bean. You could simply look at this article and thing ‘Thai Attack’ or you could, like most, view this as a way of making things better – that is the article lays bare the truth and once more people know about it then they are able to avoid.

          Hopefully Thai officials will pick this up and see the damage it does to the reputation of Thailand – this may affect positive change which most westerners, from what we’ve been told, want so that Thailand will be able to compete with other Asean members.

          Complaining is one thing; that’s just moaning about something without doing anything about it. It’s the same as being critical without offering anything constructive.

          The article was written around information passed to us from people how were victims of this scam.

          All these people wanted to do was to teach kids to read, write and speak English and it appears some don’t care about the education of the kids but rather stuffing cash in their own pockets.

          You’re right, it’s coming up that time for tea and crumpets; so glad you reminded me.

    • beenthere

      Would you say the same thing if it was you who worked a whole month only to find out you not have a job anymore, no money in the bank and worse the agent ends up with your share, nicely paid by the school? All this AFTER informing the school about the issues? Would you not complain? Actually complaining is doing a lot….by now there isn’t a teacher who haven’t heard of Kirk and his education scam. Kirk lost placement contracts because of these complaints!
      The only person who doesn’t seem to care is……………..you worldview?

    • Bee

      Teacher here, I’d say this article is spot on. And I work at a ‘prestigious school’.

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  • eldee

    It’s about time that serious media started reporting on this scam. This Kirk guy has been desparately trying to cover his tracks for a couple of years, by threatening Thailand-based websites/forums with Thailand’s criminal defamation laws, when people quite rightly want to out him for the fraudster that he is. The scam is perpetuated both on the schools that he rips off with poor quality unverified unmotivated teachers and on the teachers themselves who regardless of their quality he rips off and refuses to pay.

    • http://www.meebal.com/ meebal

      We were made aware of this scam last week. We’re UK based and we don’t get intimidated by anyone.

      The only way to stop this from going on is for readers to SHARE this and other articles on the subject.

      We can, collectively, put a stop to this type of scam but only if we care enough about the injustice and let others know what is going on.