Cambodian scams

It is important to touch this difficult topic and I find it useful for many people visiting Cambodia in the aim to know its temples, working in any company or organization or willing to settle in the country. It is likely possible that a first impression of the kingdom will be very positive due to the kindness of the Cambodians. But we must be aware of the scams, so real here as in any other country of the planet. Foreigners, especially new comers, are the most vulnerable to be victimized by scammers that could come from the same authorities or from anybody, including other foreigners. You can find scams in practically every nation, so I am not completely agree with the idea that it is more common in developing countries like Cambodia. Here I let some examples of typical Cambodian scams, but I invite those who have been victims or witnesses of any other, to relate it at the comment in the ideal to prevent it to other visitors.

There are three kinds of Cambodian scams:

The first is the one performed by persons with some authority or rank, especially policemen. This group is difficult, because it is naturally assumed that men or women in uniform should provide protection and security. The fact is that in many cases it is not like this in Cambodia. The best prevention is information. Reporting suspicious behaviors will help to improve the situation in the future and will help others and asking to see other persons with a higher rank of the person you feel is not fair, could help.

The second group is made by the charitable context. It is also difficult because it can involve feelings and vulnerable people like children and handicap people can be used to commit the scam. But it can come also from unpredictable situations as we are going to see after.

The third is related with common scams involving theatrical situations with the intention to extort money.

Extortion by authorities

Frankly we can say there is an improvement on the fight on corruption over the last years in Cambodia. The hurry to present a modern country has involved the stop of several corrupt behaviors in airports, international border gates and other places where foreigners have to see with the police or other authority. However, still much to do, since you will find several occasions where corrupt practices are assumed as ‘normal’ or you find that some persons involved in such practices are not even aware such actions are corruption. ‘Tip authorities’, for example, in order to hurry any processes, seem a ‘correct tradition’ in our modern Cambodian society. Then if you do not ‘tip’, people assume already that the process will take much time than usual. This fact makes people, especially those who cannot ‘tip’, powerless. See this in getting a Cambodian passport, a defendant waiting for a tribunal, processing a driver license and many other things.

In the Cham Yean Thai-Khmer Border Check Point, for example, you find a kind gentleman saying to you that he can hurry the stamp of entrance or leaving the country at the Cambodian passport check point for 5, 10 or 20 US dollars. ‘There are many people over there. I can do it for you, the police know me, you will get it quickly. If you don´t do it quickly, you will lost your bus or taxi.

If a policeman asked you extra money to do any official process for visa, ask him to talk with his superior only. Ask him also a receipt. They will stop to ask any extra bill, though his smile will freeze and, by sure, he will make you to wait more time than usual. Don’t shout them. Keep smiling, even asking your rights. Do not be afraid. Cambodian policemen are not violent with foreigners.

The tender scam

In this situation you can be a victim, but it involves other victims: children and even handicap people. Children are mostly used to beg money at the streets, markets and beaches. They are not asking money for themselves. They are asking money for criminals that can be their own family. Children asking money or selling things on the streets can be considered slaves. Just report any thing suspicious to the due authorities. Do not give money to children.

If you want to make charity, give funds to organizations providing support to children. They know their situation. Take care with facade NGOs. Do not participate in tours through orphanages. Most humanitarian organizations in Cambodia do not recommend it, because most of those orphanages are using children to make money out of tourism. Children are not a tourist destination.

Do not make loans to persons you just know. You are teaching English or anything to a group of young people. After a some days one of your students come to ask you some money he or she needs… Ask him to direct his needs to the person in charge. He will forget it.

Vulgar scams

Don’t bring your wallet at the back pocket, especially if you are in crowds.

If you go by motorbike, put your belongings in a safe position. There are thieves by motorbike snatching purses.

Take care with easy women. She can be inside a scammer team making a performance where you become automatically a sexual abuser. Providing money to them will be the best way to escape, but your feeling  and your economy will be destroyed.

If you need a special medicine, do not buy in any farmacy. There are places selling fake medicine or expired medicine – there is not yet a full control over it. Check the expire date if it happens you might buy it.

Be aware of other foreigners as well. When you are abroad, there is a tendency to trust in other foreigners. It is a feeling of solidarity. But it happens that some foreigners are in Cambodia not because they are necessary good citizens in their own countries. Some of them are even search by their own authorities.

The I lost my wallet and passport scam is one of the most popular involving other foreigner. He is in your same hotel. You make friendship with him. He even invites you to drink something. One day ‘hey, man, I lost my wallet and passport… now I have nothing. I have to go to the Embassy to report my passport… maybe you can lend me some money for the bus. I will give you back as soon as I can get some money from home…’ If it happens that you are a very good man and you feel pity of this story, offer yourself to bring you to the embassy, but do not give him money. He will refuse the offer!!!

Sir, I help you to get a good price‘ scam is a very good one. You want to buy a pair of shoes. A man comes to you ‘sir, let me help you to talk, because you cannot speak Khmer‘. If you accept this kind helper, you will pay to the seller more than what you can think (usually the seller is part of the game). The helper will tell you that he got to reduce the price in, for example, 50 %!!! You invite him to a beer to ‘thanks his support’!!!

Different price for foreigners.‘ Realize: several places in Cambodia discriminate prices between locals and foreigners. If every foreigner in Cambodia just stop to buy things where he or she has to pay more just because his skin has another color, we can stop this hideous practice. Please be aware, there are business locals where it is written in Khmer language – so foreigners do not understand – that, for example, a beer is half US dollar for Cambodians and 3 US dollars for foreigners! Investigate it first and just refuse to buy or get service on those places. Apsara Authority, for example, discriminate people that way. It would be good to make a campaign from foreigners not to visit the temples from one month to see what happens.

Fake Buddhist monks can be easy to detect. First of all, authentic Buddhist monk will not take the initiative to talk to you. Do not believe in talkative Buddhist monks. It will be as if you find a Carthusian monk talking in a New York street.

See also the Pot of Milk Scam, very common in Siem Reap.


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

11 responses to “Cambodian scams”

  1. Patricia Garcia says :

    I just received a message through messenger a man by the name of Austin D Fuller said that he is in the military he is in Afganistán right now and wants to send a email to get him permission so he can use the computer to call and video chat He sent me a email which is But the pictures he sent me where on the scammers list I use tíneye reverse image and all but two pictures that he sent me we on there I mean the all of a sudden falling in love me and wanting to marry me was a big hint if you need his picture I will send it to you

  2. Patricia Garcia says :

    I just received a message through messenger a man by the name of Austin D Fuller said that he is in the military he is in Afganistán right now and wants to send a email to get him permission so he can use the computer to call and video chat He sent me a email which is But the pictures he sent me where on the scammers list I use tíneye reverse image and all but two pictures that he sent me we on there I mean the all of a sudden falling in love me and wanting to marry me was a big hint if you need his picture I will send it to you

  3. Steve says :

    Hi ! I have been to cambodia 3 times and was scammed by well known Internet Scammer Thavra Pich AK Thavra Choun, It was a advanced marriage Scam with the whole family involved in this in fact she has multiple facebook accounts on the Facebook with Different names.I had legal engaged with all cultural and legal protocols witnessed by the family and community . During the time we were engaged to be married I found out she was having relations with 3 different men in the time frame . From all the internet activity of scams she does she has had multiple cars during this time frame.I was applying for a fiancee visa to take her to the US the whole things was advanced scam put on by her and her family

  4. Heather says :

    I have encountered a scam at the Kymer Family Restaurant in Siem Reap – we paid for things as we ordered them, then at the end of the night they demanded we pay a full bill, brought out security and extorted us into paying. Unbelievable.

  5. tom says :

    Beware of a girl called Lyly, realname Channita, pronounced “sonita”. She befriends you, borrows your phones, moto, then claims a police officer stole it, but she will pay you back, but she needs your help to get accomodation, food, etc. She has ties to gangsters and she admitted “i could have killed you 2 months ago”, which was when she ‘borrowed’ my moto. Then her friends Sokorne from walkabout and the moneylender called Achoo stole the moto id card, saying they will keep it safe so Lyly’s gangsters dont steal it to sell the moto for more money. And i suspect now they planned it all together with Chornay Ros, who has the wet tissue booth at Citymall, as she borrowed money for that business then refused to pay it back. Dont trust these local khmer or viet here in Phnom Penh.

  6. tom selig says :

    read to get the latest scam in cambodia.

  7. Robert says :

    Be careful of Filipino. they are the biggest scammers in Asia, including Cambodia

  8. Nomad Capitalist says :

    Overall, common sense will protect you from scams anywhere. The police really aren’t that bad. I saw one foreigner pulled over in the month I was there, and she got stuck for $3. No other foreigners I spoke to had ever had an issue. I jaywalked and did other stuff right in front of the police and no one batted an eye.

    I don’t consider giving money to kids or disabled people scams; no one is forcing you to do anything. I know these kids should be in school, but I appreciate the enterprising entrepreneurship (albeit forced in many cases) of kids in Siem Reap and elsewhere.

    And it’s funny about the baby formula scam; I only saw it once in Siem Reap, but it was so poorly executed I don’t know how it works. Some young kid belted out the line before I even got close to him. It sounded so fast and so rehearsed that anyone should be able to see through it.

  9. Ryan says :

    Worst Scam of all is the ‘Milk to feed my Baby scam’
    I have heard of this every time I come to Cambodia but until tonight I was a bit unsure and always felt bad when I said NO to a mother or little girl holding a baby. But after tonight, when I saw one girl (about 8 years old) convince 3 seperate tourists to spend over $200 USD on Baby formular within 2 hrs, then go back in to the same shop, sell it back to the shop and walk out and give the money to an older man I am convinced of how bad this scam is.
    It plays on your kindness and the worst part of this is that the kindest people are the ones supporting the criminals.
    It gets worse, a friend who works for an NGO told me that the babies used are often actually stolen or bought from poor families and if the baby is lucky it will be given to an orphanage when it is too big to play its part.
    Soo frustrated right now….
    I hope this helps anyone with there decision to not give to those who don’t deserve it.

    • Anonymous says :

      It’s true we are in Cambodia my husband fell for it. Bought baby formula then it gets sold back cheaper price to shop.

  10. says :

    Forex trader 247, often come to the levels of national economies to struggle
    through icy conditions, died four months, but apparently network TV.

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