Two women on vacation in Chiang Mai from California, have been arrested and their passports are being held after they were allegedly caught trying to exchange counterfeit dollars at a money changer.
Misty Eichholz and Danniel Paquette landed in the country on Feb.16 and were planning a month long vacation through Thailand and Cambodia.
According to their hometown newspaper, Mountain Democrat, they were arrested after just one week of the trip.
Coconuts reached out to Chiang Mai tourist police, but they were not available for comment on this case.
Both GoFundMe and YouCaring campaigns have been set up to allegedly raise money for legal representation for the women. The GoFundMe has a goal of US$50,000 and has raised US$9,363 since being launched yesterday. The YouCaring has raised US$235 of a desired US$100,000.
The story on the GoFundMe page explains that the duo simply found the American money in a bag on the street in the northern city of Chiang Mai, so they attempted to change it for Thai baht, thinking they were lucky.
According to an update to Paquette’s Facebook page three hours ago, the women are out on bail. A comment on the GoFundMe page says that they are staying in a hostel until their trial next month. A friend of the women posted on this page said that the amount of counterfeit money they tried to exchange had a face value of US$1,000.
The page identifies Paquette as an employee at a medical center and the local newspaper identifies Eichholz as a bartender.
Paquette wrote on her page, “We are alive and well. Temporarily out on bail. Things are very complicated and we are still in deep water. Still facing possible prison time. Still facing fines and lawyer fees. Our passports are being withheld and we can’t leave Thailand for weeks or months…(hopefully not years!). We don’t have a lot of answers right now. Language barriers make things EXTREMELY difficult. We will have more updates soon.”
According to the post, the pair face up to 12 years in jail if found guilty. According to Thai law, they could face a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to THB20,000 (US$639) if the court rules that the pair didn’t know they were using fake bills.