Anywhere you find tourists you find scams. And there are plenty of scams in Cambodia! By knowing what scams in Cambodia exist and the easiest ways to avoid them, you can stay scam free on your visit too.
The missing bag scam
So, you’re staying in a guesthouse with a load of other backpackers, spending your days exploring the country and evenings kicking back for a few beers with your newly found fellow travelling friends. The con artists here is one of your new ‘friends’, who, after forging a pretty firm friendship with you will one day claim their bag containing all their valuables – passport, visa cards, cash – has been stolen. Then you’ll be asked to hand over a hefty sum of money, which they will pay back once they have contacted their embassy. Of course, you’ll never see the money again so it’s best to pretend you’ve run out of cash or offer to accompany them to the embassy.
The crooked traffic cop scam
Tourists are commonly targeted by traffic police looking to boost their meagre wages. While this isn’t a scam as such it’s corruption that can be avoided. The simplest way is to not break the law: Wear a helmet, make sure your lights are working and stick to the rules of the road – yes, they do exist. Tourists are often pulled over by these police who will come up with a multitude of reasons to fine you. The actual fine is a couple of dollars, but they will demand much more. Ask to be taken to a police station if this happens, and, more often than not, they’ll let you off.
The drugs scam
Tourists will often be approached by tuk tuk drivers and other touts trying to sell weed and other drugs. While many will do just that, ripping you off in the process, a few will make your lives hell. They’ll ask you to come around the corner or to a secluded spot where a policeman will be hiding. As soon as the deal is done, he will appear and attempt to arrest you. Of course, you can pay your way out of being sent to the cells, but it will cost you.
The rape scam
This is a particularly nasty scam and again is aimed at men. Similar to the ‘take me home scam’, this involves a seemingly sweet and attractive girl paying interest in a tourist. She’ll spend a few days with him, pandering to his every need. Then she’ll turn up with a mob of angry males, crying and claiming she has been raped. Of course, the crime will soon be forgotten if the tourist pays the price.
The monk scam
This is another common scam carried out at the riverside in Phnom Penh and Pub Street in Siem Reap. Con artists dressed as monks will approach you and try and sell you bracelets and other goods. They are not monks, and your hard-earned cash is going straight into the pockets of criminal gangs. This is easy to avoid since you won’t find a genuine monk selling wares to tourists or anyone else.
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