British man nabbed for souring Phuket eatery’s reputation

Photo via Facebook/ ตำรวจสอบสวนกลาง

Officers from the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) arrested a British man for allegedly defaming an Italian restaurant in Phuket with negative reviews on Google after a two-year long conflict with the restaurant owner.

The restaurant owner filed a complaint with the Sakhu Police Station officers after noticing a sudden drop in their Google Maps rating, from 4.9 stars to 3.1 stars. The owner also noticed several new one-star reviews containing negative comments, and one of the comments came from 21 year old British man, Alexander.

The owner suspected the foreign man of giving a low rating and negative comments to defame the restaurant. The owner claimed that the reviews contained false and exaggerated information, and several reviews seemed similar, suggesting they might be from Alexander’s friends.

According to the owner, Alexander’s action stemmed from a conflict between him and the restaurant in 2022. Alexander frequently used the restaurant’s entrance to access his condominium because it was more convenient than the condo’s official entrance.

However, the owner requested that Alexander stop using their entrance as it was reserved for customers and built on private land paid for by the restaurant.

The restaurant owner believes the negative reviews were Alexander’s way of getting revenge for being denied access to the entrance.

Upon learning about the legal action, Alexander reportedly fled Phuket and hid in a condominium on Charoenkrung Road in the Bang Kho Laem district of Bangkok. Sakhu Police Station officers then coordinated with CIB leading to his arrest on May 8.

Alexander was charged under Section 14(1) of the Computer Act: importing false information into the computer system in a way that is likely to cause damages to the public. The penalty will be imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to 100,000 baht. He reportedly denied the accusations.

A similar story of conflict over reviews was reported in February this year. In this case, an American expat in Thailand faced jail time for defaming the Sea View Resort & Spa Koh Chang and its staff member after writing a review on TripAdvisor about his negative experience at the accommodation.

The American eventually avoided jail by issuing an official apology to the resort, even though he was confident in his right to write an honest review.

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