And, after all, how could you not make a fortune growing date palms from what were called "gold seeds".
"Who ever thought that a company that is operated under the Royal Initiative Project could be fake?" said Mr Wiroj from Chiang Mai's Fang district about how he was duped.
"I thought it was a legitimate business, so I had no doubts about investing 300,000 baht to buy date palm seeds. Now all the money I borrowed to buy the seeds is gone and it looks like I will never get it back."
But Mr Wiroj was not the only farmer who took part in the scheme. A man calling himself Taksin Siririn convinced thousands of other farmers in the North to part with their life savings or money borrowed from a bank.
Mr Taksin ran a company called Por Pieng Pattana Wisahagid which he told farmers was developing a Thai date palm.
Mr Wiroj said Mr Taksin also gained the trust of farmers by telling them his company was part of a Royal Initiative project. Documents about the date palm project that he presented to them carried royal emblems and historic photos of the King conducting agricultural work. The document encouraged farmers to "follow in the footsteps of the King's self-sufficiency" model.
It also boasted that one "lucky" date palm producing "golden fruit" was as commercially valuable as 100 longan trees, a staple crop in the North.
But it was not a Royal Initiative project.
Mr Taksin and his staff were also promising farmers that in a worst case scenario they would only double their money. Word of the date palm seed scheme spread like wildfire among the farming community, and they were soon beating a path to Mr Taksin's door.
Mr Wiroj told Spectrum when he learned about the claimed returns from the date palm seeds he thought they were too good to be true.
He was told that all he had to do was buy a date palm seed for 30 baht and take care of it for six months and after it became a seedling, the company would buy it back for 60 baht to grow into a full-sized date palm.
"As soon as I heard about the deal, I felt I had to grab it. It seemed quite profitable. So I borrowed the money against my truck and took the money to buy 10,000 seeds in January this year," said Mr Wiroj.
Mr Wiroj said that in the first two months, Mr Taksin was still available to offer advice and answer questions over the phone. But after six months, Mr Taksin contacted Mr Wiroj and told him to take care of the seedlings for another two months. The farmer was told he would be paid an additional 10 baht on top of the 60 baht he had been promised for each seedling.
Another two months passed, and Mr Wiroj patiently waited for Mr Taksin to call him back. As his frustration grew, Mr Wiroj tried to call Mr Taksin, but his phone was always turned off.>>
To compound his woes, Mr Wiroj says he signed a contract with Mr Taksin that guaranteed he would sell the seedlings only to Mr Taksin. He now believes that he has no right to sell the seedlings to a third party despite the alleged fraud.
"What am I going to do with the date palms that I can't sell and the money that has been wasted?" he said, his eyes welling with tears. "Pretty soon my truck will be taken away because I don't have enough money to pay the debt."
Sompon Wittawatpan, 53, a farmer from Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district is another victim of the scheme.
He first learned about the deal when he visited San Sai district and noticed a sign on the street advertising date palm seeds.
The sign led him to the Por Pieng Pattana Wisahagid company, where he learned more about the company and the date palm scheme. Mr Taksin explained to Mr Sompon how it works and how much money he would make.
As soon as Mr Sompon walked into the company's office, he noticed many pictures of the King visiting what appeared to be date palm plantations, as well as awards, certificates and news articles about Mr Taksin and his company.
A 30 baht investment for a 60 baht return for each seed, and the name of His Majesty the King to guarantee the scheme, Mr Sompon has no doubts about making a big investment. In October last year, Mr Sompon paid 900,000 baht for 30,000 seeds.
After six months, Mr Taksin returned, as he promised. He came to take the first 4,000 seedlings from Mr Sompon's plantation and gave him 240,000 baht. He said he would come back for the rest of the seedlings soon.
Mr Sampon still believed it was a good investment, so he bought more seeds. He paid 600,000 baht and started growing more date palms, and then bought a further batch of seeds for 900,000 baht. He saw date palms as a great business opportunity.
When all the seedlings were ready, Mr Sompon contacted Mr Taksin, who promised to come and collect them soon, but he never arrived. Mr Sompon tried to contact him many times but he was always unavailable.
He finally heard that a cheque would be sent to pay for the seedlings. He received one cheque for one million baht on July 16, and another for 254,000 baht on July 20.
"I went to the bank as soon as I got the cheque, but the bank staff told me that both cheques had bounced. I tried to contact Mr Taksin, but his phone was switched off. Then I went to his company office, but it was closed down. What am I going to do with all the date palms?" asked Mr Sompon.
Mr Sompon was very disappointed by the man he fully believed in. He said all he wants is his money back. He doesn't even want to sue Mr Taksin.
On Oct 1, Suwat Theparak, secretary-general of the Office of Royal Development Projects Board, appeared on the Thai PBS TV show Sathanee Pracachon (People Station) to talk about the issue of the fake date palm scheme.
He said that every Royal Development and Royal Initiative Project scheme aims to help create jobs or careers for people, with no hidden commercial purpose. He said that people who benefit from a royal project should not have to pay for anything, and that the project run by Mr Taksin was contrary to their main purpose.
Thai PBS also contacted Mr Taksin, who spoke to the show's host, and explained that he had nothing to do with the scam. He said that someone in his company might have used the name of Royal Initiative Project to make people buy the palm date seeds from them.
"My company is not part of the Royal Initiative Project. The land that I grow date palms on was donated by the King, so I make that land useful for everyone by promoting date palms to farmers," Mr Taksin said.
"The main purpose of my company is to let people know what I can do with the land donated by the King and how they can profit from this. We are not a Royal Initiative Project, people are just misunderstanding."
Pol Col Tanawut Tuamsomboon, the superintendent of Crime Suppression Division, sub-division 4, went to Chiang Mai himself in order to open the complaints centre for farmers taken in by the scam.
He told Spectrum that a group of 10 farmers from Chiang Mai went to the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok to report the scam on Oct 1.
He noted that all of the victims were from the North, and decided to take his team up to Chiang Mai in order to make it easier for other farmers to file complains.
At least 100 people came in to file complaints against Mr Taksin. Most of them paid at least 150,000 baht for seeds, with some spending as much as two to three million baht on seeds.
Pol Col Tanawut issued a summons to get Mr Taksin and his team to explain themselves to the police but he has never shown up.
On Oct 21, Mr Taksin came to Bangkok and finally went to talk to Pol Col Tanawut at the Crime Suppression Division. He explained that what happened was not his company's or his doing at all.
Mr Taksin told Pol Col Tanawut that he never advertised his company as part of the Royal Initiative Project. He said people who believe that are just misunderstanding. He told the police that he has no intention of fleeing justice.
"At the moment we can only charge him with fraud. He may face five years in prison and/or a 5,000 baht fine.
"Mr Taksin said that he would fight to prove his innocence in court, which he has the right to do," said Pol Col Tanawut.
Pol Col Tanawut explained further that he can't charge Mr Taksin for using the Royal Initiative Project name because only a committee of senior police officers has the right to lay such a charge. Pol Col Tanawut said that he had submitted the case to senior officers for review.
"For now, I can only charge him with fraud. We will have to wait for the committee's decision before we can charge him with using the name of Royal Initiative Project without permission," said Pol Col Tanawut.