Pattaya Daily News

23 July 2009 :: 21:07:18 pm 1765

Thai Scams: Boiler Room Operative Part 2

This will be the first a series where PDN concentrates on various scams that use Thailand as a base to rip off the rest of the world. The first reveals the inner workings of the boiler room scam merchants, compiled from true life experiences of individuals known personally by the author and verified by him.
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You may have seen the movie “The Boiler Room” some years ago, which was a fine exposé of the real life operations of the scam merchants, using either the false share angle, or foreign exchange scam. The movie was very true to life, so much so that it was actually used as a training film by the Boiler Room operators! Jim (pseudonym) worked from 2000 to 2003 in three of the large boiler rooms that were located in and around the upper reaches of Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road, conveniently located between Soi Cowboy and Nana (surprise, surprise!), part of Bangkok’s red-light district. He had been typical of the employees of such scams, a tourist, out of money, yet not wanting to return home to the frozen North i.e. the UK. He saw several ads in the Bangkok Post, which typically read:

“WANTED. Young, fluent English speakers to work as trainee stock brokers. Unbelievably Big Money for the right candidates,” with a local Bangkok contact number. Jim duly rang the number and was invited along for an interview at 5.30 the next morning! This was the time he usually went to bed, playing the Soi Cowboy/Nana/Pat Pong circuits, as he did. Nevertheless, he went along, arriving dead on 5.30 am. The first question the interviewer asked was “How do you feel about working from 6am-3pm?”

“OK, I suppose,” Jim replied, “but why so early?”

“Because we are working the Australian market,” was the reply, “and we’ve got to work within their time-zones, Oz being 4 hours in front of Thailand”. Jim was then asked if he had any tele-marketing experience and what his educational qualifications were. He replied that his tele-marketing experience was limited but he had 3 GCE ‘A’ levels, intending to go to a UK university sometime later that year. He was eventually accepted and asked to turn up smartly dressed, in trousers, shirt and tie at 5:45am the following morning. He would start as a tele-marketer, and if he proved his worth, would be elevated to ‘sales-broker’ level, after 3 months’ probation.

Jim lived in a condo building and was surprised to find 6 other farangs that he’d vaguely seen before, but didn’t actually know, emerging from the condo entrance at 5:20 am. He quickly ascertained they were all going to the same place, so they shared 2 taxis. Arriving, at the office, which was located behind locked doors, with an access code pad and only the name of the company “KENSINGTON” on the door on the 10th Floor of a building in Soi Asoke, Jim was first surprised to see his fellow tele-marketers tucking into breakfasts of cornflakes, buns and coffee – “all free,” Jim was told. And this was true throughout the day, as you could go up anytime for a bite and a coffee, particularly after a hit, otherwise they’d be given a baleful look by the team leader, whose job it was to keep them in line

Jim was assigned to a team-leader telemarketer who would teach him the ropes; basically learning the script off-by-heart, telephone techniques, speed-dialling, keeping strict records of those they’d called and results of the various phone calls. The morning started off promptly at 5:55 am with a sales and pep-talk meeting. First, the Floor Manager, reminder everyone they were privileged to work for such a prominent and well-known, highly respected brokerage firm and then various members were admonished for fraternizing with one of the ‘opposition’ in a local pub, a firm known to be scam merchants.

“We were told never to discuss our business with ‘outsiders’, nor to fraternize, under threat of instant dismissal and we were also told there were undercover spies constantly keeping an eye on us, after hours,” Jim explained. Here, results from the day before would be read out, and high-ranking scorers (whose names were prominently displayed on a white board with their scores for the week clearly marked and amended daily) were cheered and patted on the back. The access code for the next day would then be given out and woe betide anyone who didn’t get it, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed in the next day.

The individual telemarketer were assigned to various ‘sales-brokers’, who, incidentally, worked in a different part of the building that we telemarketers weren’t allowed into. “We did the call calling ,” recalls Jim, “until we interested some punter and then we passed on the info to the ‘sales-brokers’, who would actually do the selling. Our job was just to find likely candidates and it sometimes meant calling over 100 people a day all across Australia. The firm’s phone bill must have been ginormous! We were also expected to gen-up on the info about the firm and also to learn and use stock market terms, so we could speak convincingly. The idea was that we would be given copies of the Australian Yellow Pages for various cities and towns across the nation and assigned various letters of the alphabet, being required to cold call every one, constantly ringing until they eventually answered.”

This method was fraught with problems, though, as we were soon to discover, when on calling one individual, a roofer working on a roof in a gale force wind, he screamed at Jim

“WHY ARE YOU BASTARDS CALLING ME AGAIN? I’VE HAD 5 F*CKING PHONE CALLS THIS MORNING FROM YOU BASTARDS AND 10 YESTERDAY. HOW MANY TIMES MUST I TELL YOU F*CKING IDIOTS – I’M NOT BLOODY INTERESTED IN PIG SHIT!”

The pig shit reference related to the fact that we were supposedly selling shares in a company that had a revolutionary, hyper-eco-friendly product that literally transformed the excreta of swine into pure water and was consequently going to revolutionize the whole of the agricultural industry worldwide! The shares were pre-issue IPOs (Initial Public Offerings – that usually go out to the select few before a company goes public ) and the company was due to be listed on the stock exchange imminently; hence represented an amazing, never to be repeated opportunity to make ‘LOADS-A-MONEY’, as the shares were guaranteed to shoot up the ratings on the first day of release and to keep climbing ad infinitum.

Jim and his friend, Tony, related that “Indeed, the company conned us really well. They had a superb website with all the technicalities of this amazing process, using electrolysis and various other unique processes. This was apparently backed up with hard-copy, excellently produced sales brochures, which would be sent out to the ‘fish who had bitten’ along with, what transpired, were photocopies of the shares. We really fell hook, line and sinker for the sales pitch, which the Floor Manager would reinforce every morning, about how everything was totally legit and how we had one of THE best products on the market that even we idiots could sell! The philosophy apparently was to totally convince us of the shares’ legitimacy and then we could put our hands on our hearts and swear everything was completely legit. It really worked too, apparently; a fact confirmed by all the boiler room workers known to the author. “The Ozzies just lapped it up”, Tony relates, “they were completely brain-dead and gambling mad. They’d sell their grannies if they thought they could make a quick buck. They’d literally believe everything you told them, especially if you had an upper middle class, educated accent, which they traditionally deferred to – the convict legacy!”

Jim and Tony, concurred that there were three echelons to the business, the telemarketers (TMs), (who were mushrooms – fed shit and kept in the dark), the ‘sales-brokers’ and the super-sales-brokers’, individuals who the TMs never got to speak to, but who would be seen very occasionally, spoken of in hushed and adulatory terms and treated like gods, according to Tony. There were strict guidelines and we were basically never allowed to discuss business with our next-in-line, the ‘sales-brokers’, who, it later transpired, were warned if they ever divulged the secrets to us minions, would be sacked immediately. And that represented a dire threat because they were literally coining it in, appearing ahead of us in the queue at the bank on Fridays to be paid in US dollars. They literally had wads of money. They were paid by commission only , so had to literally sing for their supper, but they were really, really good (the w*nkers didn’t last), whereas we got a basic wage, paid every Friday, augmented by percentages of that sold by the ‘sales-brokers’, based specifically on our leads.

“We had a great time,” recalls Tony, “we’d literally establish friendships over the phone with farmers with countless thousands of acres, who needed a day or more to traverse their land. Australia was in the throes of a drought at the time, with thousands of livestock dying weekly, so we knew if they started bemoaning their lot to get off the phone pronto. We’d track the progress of the drought and call to those farmers ahead, who still had green pastiures. We knew more about the weather than the meteorologists .

We’d sometimes ask their advice over who in the neighbourhood had money and try and get a recommendation as a lead in to a cold call. Believe you me we needed it! Can you imagine what it’s like being constantly slagged off more often than not, especially when, by misfortune, you’d got a duplicate page, or the opposition, of which there were about eight operating simultaneously out of Bangkok at the time, had already called them 15 times that day!? So to get an intro was great and then the people would be pleasant, especially when you told them about how their families were faring 1000 miles away! We all became experts in the various aspects of Ozzie business. Mine was sheep and fruit farmers and Jim’s was roofers, felters and handymen, “ Tony recalls.

IN TOMORROW’S EXCITING EPISODE – LEARN HOW THEY DISCOVERED THE TRUTH BEHIND THE SCAM & WHO THE REAL BOSSES WERE! – ONLY ON PDN…

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Stories

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