Scams are in any country so this article is not meant to single out the Philippines as a scam capital or anything like that. The thing is though whenever you have such drastic income inequality as you do in a place like the Philippines many people will switch to less than honorable means of earning money.
That’s why in this article I’m going to go over some of the top scams that you may have already heard about and those that you may have not.
Lazada Seller Scam
I had just moved into a new place that needed an air conditioner. I don’t like the window units since they’re too loud so I decided to go with a mini split air con. I went to my go-to place to shop online, Lazada.com (the Amazon.com of the Philippines). There I saw a new mini split aircon that was priced at just 13,000php ($250).
Part of me knew it was too good to be true but I figured,’ it’s Lazada that’s a pretty reputable company’ so I bought it. I then got a call from the seller saying that I had been refunded and that I needed to pay them through 7/11 (yes you can pay people via 7/11 here) and that I only had an hour to do it if I wanted to keep the promo price.
At first, I was ready to rush to 7/11 to pay but my bullshit detector went off, and realized what he was saying didn’t make any sense. I told the guy “I’m just gonna be honest. This feels like a scam” to which he replied “f*ck you! f*ck you!” and hung up. After I told my expats group about it they revealed that this was a pretty common scam on Lazada.
The scammer will list an item that is priced way below what it should be. Then once someone orders it they’ll call them and tell them to pay first outside of the Lazada platform (like GCash or 7/11). The scammer then never sends the item and runs away with the money.
How you can prevent yourself from being a victim?
Never pay for an item you buy outside of the platform. Only pay through Lazada itself or cash on delivery after you’ve seen and inspected the item.
An important note about Lazada.
Lazada tends to have a lot of low-quality products (low by western standards that is) and the pictures often exaggerate the size or features of the product. For example, I bought a fridge from Lazada and the picture made it look tall when in fact it was only slightly larger than a dorm room fridge.
I also made the mistake of buying some towels from Lazada because they seemed like such a good deal (2 for $5) but when I used them I got so many fuzzies on me (especially in my hair) that it took my partner an hour to get them all out! Washing them didn’t help either.
The Confidence Gang
Everyone knows that Filipinos are friendly. It’s one of the biggest draws to the country (it certainly isn’t the free-flowing traffic). The problem is a few people take advantage of that reputation for their own sinister reasons.
Lei Wi Yang was a tourist in Intramuros who was set up in a restaurant by a confidence gang. The four innocent-looking locals won her confidence and convinced her to take them to her hotel room. At which point they drugged and robbed her. She told police that the gang took her cell phone, 400,000 pesos, and $1,376.
These 4 are part of a large crime syndicate that targets tourists by winning their trust with non-menacing-looking gang members.
The truth is friendliness means nothing here. Being friendly is standard practice in the Philippines, and it shouldn’t be construed to indicate that a local actually likes you or is of good moral character.
How can you prevent yourself from being a victim?
Follow your mom’s advice. Don’t talk to strangers. Most Filipinos (and Asians in general) tend to be shy. They may look at you and giggle with their friends but they will not just walk up to a random stranger in the park and talk to them.
If someone seems too eager to be your friend it’s usually because they want something. This is especially true when it comes to women talking to random men. Which leads me to my next point.
The Romance Scam
Ah yes, the classic romance scam. This is something that has been discussed almost ad nauseam on youtube and other blogs. One of my top articles on this site is 7 Signs a Filipina Really Likes You and 5 That She Doesn’t. That’s why I won’t go into it too much here. The bottom line is, that bar girl you met probably doesn’t really love you and a decent girl isn’t going to put out on the first date.
I do want to point out that I did a real survey and by far most western men who are married to Filipinas are very happy. Most of the Filipinas who are willing to date men old enough to be their grandfathers are just looking for stability and that’s not a bad thing here in Asia. You want a pretty young woman and she wants stability. Who loses?
Other types of romance scams include:
Fake women – where local men pretend to be women and you don’t find out until it’s too late. Other scams are more simple. This particular ladyboy walked up to a tourist, gave him a hug, and then ran off with his wallet.
Drug and rub-where a girl drugs a guy in his hotel room and then robs him
Fellow Expat Scammers
Everything about this story feels like a scam. He doesn’t mention the name of the person supposedly killed so it can’t be verified. He doesn’t mention the name of the company so you can check it out. Also, he doesn’t mention how they do the checks. By the way, social media checks just means they type the girl’s name into various social media platforms–something you can easily do yourself.
This one kinda hurts the most to be honest. You’d think being a minority that expats would be looking out for one another. The reality is other expats, especially online, can be quite toxic and some of them are out-and-out scammers. Why? The same reason locals do it, they’re broke!
They burned through their retirement accounts trying to impress various women and now they need money and have nowhere to turn. If you’re having financial problems read my article on how to make money honorably in the Philippines.
How to prevent yourself from becoming a victim
Be cautious of vague posts and people no matter their national origin offering you investment opportunities. A legitimate company should have a web presence with real reviews. Also, be wary of expats who boast about their wealth. They may just be trying to lure you into their trap.
There are two types of foreigners in the Philippines, those who have been scammed and those who are too obtuse to realize that they’ve been scammed. Like any developing nation, there are scams here.
Whether it’s being overcharged or falling for a girl (or guy) that is just looking for money, getting scammed is something that happens to all of us. I personally got way overcharged by a taxi driver a few months ago. There’s no point in becoming a bitter betty and being suspicious of everyone.
Just consider it the price of paradise and enjoy your life to the fullest!