Immigration police in Thailand have conducted a bungled raid a digital nomad co-working space in the northern city of Chiang Mai.
The raid happened in the morning of 1 October at Punspace in Chaing Mai. Reports came in of a raid with armed immigration police rounding up everyone in the complex and demanding passports and visas. Anyone without a passport was taken into custody until their visas could be verified.
A total 18 people without passports were put into vans and taken away for questioning. Only 4 had their passports on them and were released. Many more did not go to Punspace as news started circulating about the raid.
This is the first raid on this scale in Chiang Mai.
One source told TelecomAsia that Police were acting on a tip-off that a group of foreigners were working in a suspicious way and that they feared it was a criminal gang operating some sort of boiler-room scam. He also said that all the relevant chambers of commerce and embassies had been informed.
A blogger at johnnyfd.com posted that after six hours of time wasted, it appeared that Chiang Mai immigration police thought that Punspace had hired foreign workers illegally. He said police had never heard of the concept of co-working spaces did not understand why someone would want to hire an office space to work instead of checking their email from a hotel or Internet cafe.
Punspace said on their Facebook page that after they explained how co-working was just like an Internet cafe the immigration police now understand better and said it is OK to work online in Thailand.