Expats Guide: Beware of these Scams

expat living philippines scam
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The Philippines has a promising business climate, growing economy, great shorelines, pleasant locals, beautiful nature, year-round festivities, and affordable cost of living. No wonder a lot of companies are setting up shop and a great number of tourists visit the country.

However, the beauty of this country hides a darker side where scams is an ongoing problem. Every travel destination has its own problems that carry the risk of petty crimes. The Philippines is no exemption where there are tourists you’ll find criminals. There are various approaches to relieve guileless expats of their cash. In this article we’ll describe the modus operandi of malefactors so that you can avoid Philippines scams.


Budol Budol Gang

The culprits will combine real money with sheets of paper cut in the size of bills to make it appear that they possess bundles of cash. The gang members are sweet-talkers, they persuade their victim to swap the bundle of cash with an expensive piece of .jewelry or anything of high value. Stories vary, they will call your house and convince the receiver that you were involved in an accident and in immediate need of a large amount of money.

How to avoid:

Never trust strangers or deal with people you met in a public place. Remind your household members about this plot and they should never believe in anonymous callers.


Familiar Face

A scammer will intentionally bump into you, and he’ll tell you that you are billeted in the hotel where he works as a bellboy, room boy or a security guard. It’s his day off and he can accompany you to the scenic spots in the metro. Beware, follow him and you’re dead meat.

How to avoid:

Avoid overly friendly strangers.


Sob Story

A scammer in need finds a foreigner indeed. Old women or child beggars will approach you and tell their sad story about their need for money to buy medicine or the passing away of a relative. In your desire to help, unknowingly you will be lured into a trap where you’ll be kidnapped or robbed.

How to avoid:

If you feel unsafe, back away immediately. If you are being grabbed by malefactors, fight back by making noise, kick, or try to run away.


Ativan Gang

Good-looking Filipinas will small talk with male foreigners, once trust is built they will invite you to join their family in a gathering. You’ll be introduced to the supposedly family members and join the celebration. You’ll enjoy sips of beer as you belt out your first song, unknowingly this is laced with Ativan, a sedative. Once lights are out, you’ll be robbed of your valuables, some female foreigners have been raped.

How to avoid:

Avoid overly friendly strangers.


The Money Changer

Foreigners exchange their foreign currencies in the black market because rates are higher than banks, malls, and hotels. Some money changer tellers will count the money in front of you and with a hand trick will steal some bills.

How to avoid:

Count your money before leaving the counter. It’s better to pay the bank’s transaction fee than be scammed.


The Pedophile

Street children will come near you asking for food or money. Once your Good Samaritan side wins, an adult family member will suddenly appear and demand more money. If you fail to give in to their wishes they will threaten to call the police or the barangay tanods, local aides.

How to avoid:

Do not give alms.


Bullet in bag scam

There were bullet luggage reports of unscrupulous airport staff at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) planting live bullets in tourists’ luggage. The victims are then detained for days and asked to pay a bribe or charges will be filed for illegal possession of firearms.

How to avoid;

Secure all luggage openings and watch your luggage.



Source: Travel Scams: http://travelscams.org/asia/common-tourist-scams-philippines/

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