Police bribes scam

Phnom_Penh-scam-police-bribesAs in many non-western countries (also read the Bali corrupt police scam), the traffic police makes a little money on the side by pulling over tourists and asking them to pay their fine directly in cash. Of course, no real ticket will be issued and the proceeds go directly into the officer’s “pension fund”. Tourists are an easy target because they are easy to recognize, more gullible and can be squeezed for a larger sum. The usual police bribe for local Cambodians is 5.000 Riel (US$ 1.25 or € 0,90), while the “officious” bribe for tourists is US$ 5. But they sometimes simply try to ask more, and if a foreigner is not familiar with the local customs and pricing system, they might end up paying $ 10 or even $ 20 before they can continue their ride.

This way, renting a motorcycle in Phnom Penh could turn out very expensive, as foreigners are selected arbitrarily and then “charged” with various infractions of the traffic law, like driving the wrong way in a one way, not wearing a helmet, having the lights on during daytime, or no light during nighttime or whatever comes to mind. As most tourists are not aware of the exact traffic laws in Cambodia, they’re unable to oppose the charges. And pointing them to the fact that almost every local also drives without a helmet won’t work either, tourists are simply a much easier target and they yield higher bribes.

As a tourist renting a motorbike, make sure you know the basic traffic rules of the country you’re visiting and always wear a helmet, not only to avoid being pulled over for not wearing it, but also as a disguise to be less recognizable as a foreigner. Because bribing a corrupt police officer once may not seem so expensive, but if you’re in “luck”, you may get pulled over several times a day, costing you at least $ 5 every time.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Phnom Penh and Cambodia Tourist Scams Forum.

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