Phuket officials warn of fake begging monks

23 Jan 2012

Religious officials on Phuket have warned residents and tourists to beware of bogus Buddhist monks asking for alms. The local director of the Thai National Buddhism Office, Chatpawit Jinapong, said that the annual tourist high season saw lots of con-men donning monk’s robes and tricking people into giving them donations.

Saffron-robed monks with alms making their rounds at 05:00 or 06:00 in the morning are a familiar sight on Phuket and in most other regions of Thailand. Buddhists make merit by giving food and other sustenance to the monks, but rarely offer cash.   

Signs that monks are not who they seem to be are requests for money or if they are collecting alms after 08:00. Mr Jinapong said the latter was an obvious indication of a scammer at work as most monks would be back in their temples eating the breakfast that they had collected by this time.

Mr Jinapong said so-called monk police were constantly on the lookout for bogus monks and had so far found dozens of them. The officers are mostly patrolling beaches such as Patong in an attempt to stamp out the unsavoury practice. The director said he had asked the local police force to keep an eye out for shifty looking monks importuning cash late in the day.  

He added that although some of the fake monks were Thai nationals, many were from Cambodia. Phuket Immigration has already deported some of the foreign monks. People found guilt of impersonating a monk face 3,000 Baht fines and three months in prison. 

Tags: warn fake monks

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