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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 28 Mar 2010
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The 'you caused an accident' scam..

I just read a story in the Feb 2010 Newsletter about a guy in Cambodia who collided with another motorcycle.

I was not there and my apologies to the unfortunate travellers and the the other party if I'm wrong, but this smacks of scam to me.

A scooter travelling in the same direction cuts in front of you - bang; the father of the two girls who cut in front happens to be right there and sends them to hospital but doesn't help the travellers; the police arrive (how long does it take to get police in a rural area in the 3rd world when you need them, but these ones just turned up); the travellers' motorcycle is taken away by police and money must be paid + threat of impounding yet there's no establishment of fault; the travellers are refused their request to be taken to hospital, rather kept on the roadside for 4 hours; the family asks for $1000, probably more than their annual income; the fat corrupt policeman trying to get his bribe.. It's all too much of a setup says my gut.

The end result: Wounded travellers, probably wounded bike, lost time, pain and anguish and a horrible situation to negotiate, and, 300 big ones gone from the travel budget.

These scams occur around the world and many people advise that (unless you or your bike are seriously damaged and you haven't badly injured someone else) you get the hell out of there, get back on your bike and keep going. Don't stop at the next police station because they're likely to be in on it too, or they're likely to take the opportunity to say you've committed a crime and then fleece you.

My advice, if you can't leave the scene and you do get involved in such a situation:

- Communication is the key. If possible find someone who can translate. YOU choose them, don't necessarily take someone who nominates themselves as they might be in on the scam. (this all sounds very cynical but it does happen and I wouldn't be surprised if the policeman in the story got his cut from the $300 even if he wasn't explicitly paid a bribe). If you have to, pay someone. 'Hey, can you speak English? HELP, I'll pay you $5 or buy you dinner if you can help me'

- Find out the local word for embassy. Stop at nothing until you can go there or make contact if it's far away. In the face of police/officials just keep firmly, but not aggressively, saying 'Embassy, embassy, embassy...' Keep your Embassy contact details with you for each country.

- Involve as many people as you can. Try to get the message across that you're being setup. Shame the police/officials in front of their fellow countrymen. Try to get the message across that the corrupt officials are crippling the country and destroying the livelihoods of the local bystanders.

- Never pay a bribe. I payed a few when I first started travelling (in South America) as it seemed to be the way to get things done. Since then, and after 3 large trips spanning 2 years I haven't paid another.

- Take your time, try not to loose your temper. Go back to Communication + Involving People: Find out how to say 'I NEVER pay bribes' in the local language (write it down somewhere when you enter each country). Say it calmly but firmly in front of as MANY people as you can.

Last edited by Braaart; 28 Mar 2010 at 16:20. Reason: clarity
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Old 28 Mar 2010
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In Cambodia, I had a local moto, cut in, in front of me, on my bicycle but he disappeared. I crashed and locals helped me up but I wasn't hurt seriously only a lot of road rash.

BUT when talking to locals afterwards they immediately asked me how much I got from the other party.
I was quite surprised but this is the norm.
In a country with a non functioning judiciary system and no one having insurance, you pay cash on site.
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Old 29 Mar 2010
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Join Date: May 2006
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Not always the case

This to me is a bit much of the 'all foreigners are trying to rip me off' attitude that made me tired of running into other travelers on the road. Not trying to flame you, but people in all countries are basically the same, some good and some bad.

I had a crash with a car in Pakistan - both of our faults (anyone driven in Pakistan will understand how that can be!). Stopped - asked the guy how much it would be to repair his front wing - he said £25. I quickly worked out that I had no better option and happily paid. When he tried to up it when he saw how happily I paid, the crowd joined in and told him in English and other languages, how he'd got a fair price from a foreigner and should not embarrass his country by asking for more.

It would seem terrible to have the attitude that you leave the scene of all crashes because of such suspicion mentioned above.

Perhaps in other countries it's not like this, but at least trust your own judgement rather than always thinking people are ripping you off.

The worst i got ripped of was leaving my camera in a cafe and it not being there in the morning. But compared to all the help, kindness and damn right love I was shown on the road that is a small price.
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