Scams are prevalent across the globe, and in Cambodia it’s no different. It pays to be alert to avoid tainted travel experiences. Here are some common scams to look out for.
The gambling scam
You’re sat at a café or visiting a tourist attraction when you’re approached by a friendly local who asks where you’re from. When you tell them, they claim to have a relative who is gearing up to move to that country and would love to find out more. This is where the invite for dinner comes in. A gambling game will usually be going on as you arrive, which you will be invited to play – and, of course, lose. A harsher version of this sees visitors held at knife point if they refuse to play the game.
The visa scam
While efforts are being made to stamp out corruption across Cambodia, unfortunately there are some officials who have yet to clean up their act and often expect bribes at the borders before they will issue a visa (a one-month tourist visa on arrival is $30). However, another scam sees tourists approached by ‘officials’ as they head to the visa desk. They will be told additional paperwork, such as medical checks, are needed, which you will need to pay hefty fees for. These guys aren’t officials and additional paperwork is not needed.
The motorbike theft scam
Many travellers hire motorbikes in Cambodia, because it’s a cheap and easy way to get around. However, another common scam will see someone follow you for a few days before nicking the bike. This is done without raising suspicion since they will have a key to the bike lock provided by the rental place. You only have a few days left in the country – the rental place will have asked you when you leave – the police won’t find the bike, and you’ll be left forking out more than $1,000 to get your passport back. It pays well to go to a reliable bike rental shop or invest in your own padlock.
The take me home scam
This is aimed at men, and it doesn’t always have to involve prostitutes. It goes a little something like this: Guy meets nice local girl in a bar who takes an interest in him. He takes her home expecting a night of fun but instead is drugged and robbed of everything in his room. The easy way to avoid this is to not take girls back to your hotel room.
The fake police officer scam
Another common con is locals pretending to be police officers, stopping tourists and demanding they hand over their passports. As soon as they’ve got them, they will demand a ‘fine’ to return it. It’s probably not a good idea to walk around with your passport anyway, thanks to the bag snatching that is rife across the capital and other tourist hubs. Carry a photocopy instead. If you are stopped, ask to see their I.D. and be taken to the police station before handing anything over.
The milk scam
Seasoned travellers should know not to give to begging children, but buying a bit of food might be ok, right? Wrong. Here, you’ll be approached by a poor mother or child who asks if you can buy some milk. They’ll take you to a store – where the owner is in on the scam – and you’ll end up paying ten times the price. As soon as you’ve disappeared, the milk will be returned to the store and the profits shared.
(To be continued)
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