There is no doubt that the Philippines is a holidaymakers dream. As well as enjoying the amazing natural wonders and culture there are many beach resorts to enjoy. However one thing happens when we are on holiday. We relax. Although Filipinos have a great reputation for their hospitality and friendliness unfortunately there will always be some ready to prey on the unwary. We decided to put together a few of the most common ways in which visitors or travelers might be targeted.
1. The Tanim-bala scam
First, there is the Tanim-Bala scam that usually targets visitors from overseas and overseas Filipino workers (OFW). What happens in the scam is that unsuspecting passengers have their luggage planted with bullets that then show up in the x-ray machine. The airport police will detain the Traveler until they receive the sum of money they demand. Although this scam started originally in 2015, because it has been extensively covered in the media, it is thankfully less prevalent today. Our advice on how to avoid being caught up in the scam is to maintain vigilance before, during and even after your luggage is scanned by the x-ray machine. Always keep your luggage locked and cover it well if it is not hard suitcase. Do not allow anyone to handle your luggage and don’t handle anyone else’s cases either. If despite all your precautions you do get caught up in this kind of scam our advice is to stay calm and carefully check what they are doing as they examine your bags. Never offer a bribe to get out of this situation, and call a lawyer right away, if you are being unduly harassed or are denied permission to board your flight.
2. The broken meter scam
So, having successfully negotiated the airport, the next thing is to get a taxi to your hotel. This is where another prevalent scam comes in. As you get into the taxi the taxi driver informed you that is meter is not working. They will offer to give you a fixed price to your destination instead. Recently a foreigner who actually lives in the Philippines took a video of such a taxi driver taking him to his destination and charging a fixed rates of $9.35 instead, which was grossly over the price that you should’ve paid. It is perhaps not uncommon for a taxi driver realizing they have a newcomer to the area in the back of their cab, to take a longer route but the problem, in some areas of the Philippines is becoming out of control with taxi drivers fixing their meters as well to fleece the unwary customer.
There’re several simple steps to take to ensure that you do not get caught up in this kind of scam. If you get in to taxi and the driver says that is meter is not working get out again! Lets the driver know if you spot anything that looks suspicious to you. Let him know but you have informed your friends or family that you are in his and to give his name and his ID number to somebody before you travel.
3. Taxi spray scam
Another taxi scam is the scan it’s called the taxi spray Scan and will usually occur when passenger is travelling alone. The first sign that this scam may be about to happen is that the driver will be trying to cover his nose and mouth with cloth. Next you will spray something into the air that will eventually make you feel or dizzy. The idea here is that you lose consciousness allowing the driver to rob you assault you and they leave you on the side of the road.
To avoid this scam make sure that you’re always aware of what is going on in the taxi. Do not wear ostentatious jewelry or anything that might attract the
attention other potential robber. Again make sure that friends family or your hotel know what tax you’re being driven in and make sure the driver knows that to. If the driver does spray something into the air get out of the car immediately. Vigilance is always going to be key.
4. Hit, steal, and run scam
Of course in many places of the world there is the danger of having a phone snatched all valuables stolen especially if you’re in the car crawling along in traffic. Typically the thief will approach the car and threw eggs onto the windscreen or spray the windscreen with something that makes it impossible to see out unless you get out of the car and clean it. Once you do then they will strike stealing your possessions and anything then get hold of.
To avoid falling victim to this kind of scam if anyone does throw anything on your windscreen or at your car on the road, don’t do anything until you’re in a place where it is safe to stop and clean your windshield. Never drive through the windows open and avoid areas that appear unsafe. Fitting a dash cam in your car maybe another worthwhile deterrent.
The Philippines is of course not the only place where pickpockets operate. However they will normally seek out to crowded places in which to operate. Typically they will employment distraction tactics and while you are distracted Will use nice to cut through handbag straps I’d grab wallets.
To avoid this type of scam never allow yourself to be distracted and if someone does approach you be aware that they could be planning to rob you. Keep your bags closed and wallets in front pockets and if someone doesn’t stop you make sure you put your hands on your valuables over your clothes. Never carry large amounts of money or where expensive jewelry when you’re out sightseeing or in crowded places. Use a money belt for
phones and wallets so that they cannot easily be taken.
6. Credit card scam
Someone who was carrying out credit card scams will have a small device that can read information from a credit card including the pin number. This information will then be used for the scammer to make purchases on your credit card.
To avoid this type of scam whenever you use your credit card you should be vigilant and never let the card out of your site. It is better if you can to paying cash especially if you’re not able to see the machine that the merchant is using to take your payment.
7. Spiked drinks
Part of being on holiday or visiting new place is enjoying the nightlife. But if you do decide to go out to drinks make sure that you don’t go alone. If you are travelling solo then night-time is a time when you need to be extra vigilance underwear of where you are so that you do not fall victim to robbery or even worse to rape or other attack. Be aware that it is not uncommon the drinks to be spiked so that robbers can strike when you are out of disadvantage.
8. ATM skimming
You might think that going to an ATM to withdraw small amounts of money at a time might be a safe option. Unfortunately these days ATMs carry the risk of potential robbery. Again distraction techniques will be used, on a machine that has a card reader illegally installed to read your card details. Often someone might pretend that they had picked up some money that
you’ve dropped just at the point that you’re putting in your pin, which they then memorise for their own use and later they can drain your account
To avoid this type of scan always take someone else with you to the ATM and looked around carefully to make sure there is no card reader setup to capture your details as you use the machine. Make sure that you cover the keypad with your freehand so that nobody can see the pin number you enter. Be aware of anybody loitering around machine or seeming to pay particular attention to you, and offering to be ‘helpful’ in some way. If you can, always use an ATM within a bank for safer transactions.
9. The Budol-Budol gang sting
Members of a Budol-Budol gang will employ different ways to fleece vulnerable victims. One tactic often employed will be to make up an emotional story. One scam that I heard about involved an elderly woman in great distress approaching a foreigner and saying that some money had been planted in their bag that belonged to her daughter. The foreigner assured the woman that no one had been anywhere near her bag but to calm her down, allowed her to look inside. Satisfy the woman went off, with the visitors Wallet and with a ring that the old woman had advised the foreigner took off and placed in the purse to be safe. And these scanners work very fast their true magicians, and if you’re not vigilant, it’s all too easy for your belongings to completely disappear.
To avoid this type of scam, be very aware of getting into a conversation with a stranger, especially one who appears distressed or insistent. That old adage you land at your mother’s knee is right. Never talk to strangers! Again avoid wearing valuable jewelry or anything ostentatious when you’re out and about.
To avoid this scam never leave your drink unattended. If you can, buy a bottle so much the better as it is more difficult to tamper with. Never accept a drink especially a bottled drink if it is already open from a stranger. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, just leave the bar and stick to crowded places where you will be safer. Never venture down dark alleys.
10. Public WiFi
The biggest risk of your Wi-Fi being hacked is if you were signed into an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. A skilled hacker can access all your personal information within a short 20 minutes time-frame. That includes online accounts and passwords that can have a serious impact on the safety of your accounts and your details.
To avoid this type of scam never connect to a suspicious Wi-Fi hub. If you can bring pocket Wi-Fi or use your mobile data. Never connect to an unsecured network that does not need a password.
11. Fake travel agencies
Fake travel agencies often attract their victims through cheap deals and offers. The packages that they offer seem attractive with the inclusion of transport and full board packages at very low prices. You pay your money and wait for your tickets, but they will never come.
To avoid this scam remember what we always say if it looks too to good to be true then it probably is too good to be true. Only deal with reputable travel agencies and look at further positive reviews. If possible always make your reservation with a travel agency that has a physical office. Check that they have the right licensing and are ATOL protected or similar.
12 Money changer scam
When you were on holiday or travelling in the Philippines there will be a wide variety of money changers available especially within the Metro Manila area. The scam here is to attract people with attractive exchange rates that available on the black market. But as you change your money beware, many of the tennis our real magicians in the sleight of hand and may spirit away several notes as they counts them out to you
To avoid this type of scam if you’re not able to withdraw from your ATM card get your money changed in a safe and well lit area. Double check the conversion rates before the transaction with your calculator because it has been known the fake calculators to be used. Make sure you know the commission charges before you proceed. Count your money before you get it over and right after he received your Pesos.
There are a lot of risks involved with travel these days and scams are everywhere. However we hope that by highlighting these types of scams that are particularly common in the Philippines, you will be able to travel safely and enjoy your time, however long you plan to stay. Scamwatch Philippines are determined to identify scams wherever they occur and to warn against them. If you have been scammed, contact us for advice.