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Chiang Mai Coffee House Falls to Earth With Fugitive Vlogger Who Made It Famous

Tao Coffee & Community in Chiang Mai rose and fell with Sean.
Tao Coffee & Community in Chiang Mai rose and fell with Sean.

A Chiang Mai coffee shop made famous by fugitive “life coach” Sean Buranahiran remains closed after the disgraced vlogger fled the country amid charges of charity fraud.

Buranahiran didn’t own the Tao Cafe and Community in the DreamSpace Gallery on ​​Raeng Road, but frequently used it as a studio for his YouTube and Facebook videos, paying the water bill and employing staff to work as video editors.

Tao closed in mid-March as Chiang Mai shut down due to the coronavirus but has not reopened as the rest of Chiang Mai came back to life. All employees reportedly have been laid off.

Of course, if your business soars to popularity with that of a young, attractive American-Thai net idol, it likely has no future when the net idol crashes to earth in scandal.

Buranahiran reportedly sneaked over the Cambodian border en route back to the United States where he was born and raised after revelations that he misappropriated more than a million baht he raised online for Chiang Mai firefighters battling the region’s annual farm-field fires.

The vlogger originally said he’d raised 875,000 baht for the firemen, but later raised that figure to 1.2 million baht. Charity-fundraising experts speculated he actually collected closer to 20 million baht.

Buranahiran admitted he spent much of the money on other causes, including hundreds of thousands of baht to promote his own page and “buy services” from companies he owned.

Tax officials and police began investigating and fraud charges were soon suggested. But before he could appear to acknowledge the charges, he disappeared, making a lone video message from an unknown location since.