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Crackdown on foreigners working: Russian arrested in Wichit

PHOTO: Phuket Information Centre

A Russian man has been arrested in Phuket this week, accused of engaging in “illegal online work”. Phuket Immigration say that the arrest stemmed from a tip-off provided by a Thai citizen who flagged a foreigner offering massage services unlawfully via Instagram and WhatsApp.

Some occupations, including massage, are reserved for Thai citizens only. The Russian’s arrest follows a crackdown on foreigners working illegally, in jobs reserved for Thais, or without the necessary documentation, including a work permit.

Acting on the tip, an immigration officer posed as a potential client and contacted the individual through an online platform, arranging for a massage service in Russian. The agreed price for the service was $200 USD… around 7,000 Thai baht (expensive when most Thai massage services usually cost between 300 – 600 baht).

The officer then turned up for the appointment on Monday, May 6, meeting the suspected individual offering the over-priced massage services.

The man was later identified as 37 year old Mr. Aleksandr, a Russian citizen, at a residence in Wichit. Mr. Aleksandr was allegedly occupied with offering massage services to other clients when the undercover policeman arrived. He was subsequently arrested.

He was then escorted to the Wichit Police Station to face charges related to unauthorised employment and working without a work permit. The accused has since refused to offer any explanation to media or the police.

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