You Might Get Scammed in the Philippines?
Boy oh boy I bet you’ve heard that one before, eh? Of course you might get scammed in Kansas City or Colorado Springs just as easily, but a huge fear of most foreigners, especially Americans, coming to the Philippines, is that some “fast-taking”, “fast buck” charlatan is going to take advantage of their foreigner status and relieve them of their funds.
After nearly 8 years of living here as an American retiree and Internet entrepreneur, I am am not going to tell you that it can’t happen.
But I am going to tell you that it is far, far less likely to happen if you follow some very simple rules, and also.not everyone is your friend … no matter how personable they are.
Simple Anti-Scam Rule One:
You can’t cheat an honest man! Ever heard that before? Personally I feel it is pretty much true 99.999% of the time. Your opinion may differ of course, but I can see this happen so often in real life that you will not sway my opinion an iota.
If you study up on well known US ‘scam artists” you’ll find that one of the prime ingredients in setting up their scams is they need to find potential “marks” who will demonstrate that the “mark” has some larceny in his/her heart. Sometimes they will even go to the lengths of having a second, smaller scam in place that they “run” with the “mark” actually “winning”. Gives the intended victim the correct mindset for jumping in on the bigger “real” scam.
If you truly want to avoid being taken just arm yourself with this thought. If it is not yours, you are not, as an honest person, entitled to it. Simple as that. But of so very hard for many to comprehend.
I don’t want this article to run on forever, so I am going to close the discussion on this particular rule up here, with a very simple “honesty” test you can all perform.
Would You Want One of Your Children to Do This Deal?
Or would you be comfortable writing up the terms of the deal you are thinking of and taking the idea to you mom? Or your Sunday school teacher, other clergyman or some other leader whom you respect? (If you are a Christian, would it pass the WWJD (what would Jesus do) test. If so, great. It’s probably not a scam. But if it smells like something for nothing, remember this. TINSTAAFL. (If you aren’t familiar with the acronym, type it into Google .. you just might learn something)
Simple Anti-Scam Rule Two:
Base your decision on the facts of the deal, not upon the color of the person’s skin. I am never shocked and disappointed by the number of people who write me about moving to the Philippines, living in the Philippines and such, but use phrases like “Of course I know that the Filipinos are all out to cheat me.” Or, “I only want to live and make friends with other foreigners, because the Filipinos will all see me as a walking ATM”, or a continual stream of distasteful, racially biased statements like “I refuse to pay the long nose tax”, “I know I must be prepared to defend myself against the “puti” (white) cheating prices”, on and on until it makes me sick at times.
If you feel that way about living in the Philippines, then why the Hell even come?
In my 8 years of experience here the “long nose tax” mainly just does not exist. You may choose not to believe me, again, your privilege, but my wallet and bank account say differently.
Every Foreigner is NOT Your Friend
I learned a lot about this truism just after I came to live in the Philippines in 2006. A foreigner online friend wanted to buy a small motorcycle for zipping around his home town here on Luzon. Now “buzzy” little motorcycles, especially 100 or 125 cc. two-stoke motorcycles are literally a dime a dozen. They are all over the place. And it’s rare to find a village small enough and remote enough _not_ to have a motorcycle dealer. The major brands like Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda and such are all represented.
But my American friend was “too smart by half” to get himself “fleeced” by the “puti” tax. Oh no, not him, he was not going to fall into the trap of letting “those” Filipinos pick his pocket. Nope. He knew the score.
So my local friend posted all over a bunch of Philippines discussion groups until he found a fellow American … (in Cebu, about 500 miles away) who was selling a “Good, used 125cc. Kawasaki”. The asking price was $1200 USD and the seller was willing to share half the cost involved in getting the machine crated up and shipped “inter-island”. What a deal these guys had made. Almost made in heaven to hear them chitter-chatter back and forth online.
Well after about a month the fabulous “good used” motorcycle arrived here at my friend’s on Luzon.
Eagerly he ripped open the crate, jumped right on the kick starter to fire up his new prize, and promptly feel off on his ass, because the kick starter. Rather than spinning the engine over, was frozen solid as a rock. Hmm
Yep, those of you who know little two-stroke engines probably have already guessed. The kick starter (and the engine itself) were frozen up as if welded that way. Sticking out the side of a jagged hole in the engine’s lower crankcase was the end of the engine’s connecting rod … frozen in place so hard that a sledge hammer wouldn’t move it. Bummer.
Immediately my friend called the guy in Cebu. He heard what you or I might have expected. “Sorry dude, I don’t know anything about that. Someone in the shipping company must have destroyed it. The bike was in perfect working order when we boxed it up here. I’m really sorry but I don’t know what you want me to do about it. Don’t ship it back to me because I’ve already spent the money on medical bills … sorry”.
Now no one can know with certainty what really happened here. Did a mysterious third party “bust” the bike or did the seller just take advantage of the “always trust another white guy” mindset and ship off a piece of junk for $1200 USD.
We’ll Likely Never Know, But Here’s a Clue About Being Cheated.
My local friend, thoroughly disgusted and stuck with a $1200 USD “piece of junk” in his yard decided to make the best of a bad thing and hired a local Jeepney to carry the busted bike into town to the Kawasaki dealer.
“How much to fix this?” he said to the dealer, expecting the worst.
The dealer looked everything over and said, “Sir, I can’t fix this. The parts needed would cost way more than a new bike is worth … I would be cheating you if I did that. I won’t do it.”
Here’s an alternative. As is this bike is worth about $200 ISD in spare parts and aluminum scrap. A brand new bike like this lists for $1200 USD. I’ll give you $200 USD credit for the Junker and you can ride out today on a brand new bike for $1,000 USD. Comes with three years of registration, a year of service, a year of mandatory liability (no-fault) insurance and a brand new helmet. Also a cute little Kawasaki motorcycle toy that your children will love.”
Gob-struck I Think is the Word to Use.
What ever the correct word is, for the same (actually even less money), my non-trusting friend could have bought a brand new bike in his own town, and made a friend or two along the way.
If you read all this way and still feel I am “full of it” about the “long nose tax” then at least do yourself on favor and find out the “going rate” for a product _before_ you decide to buy from a Filipino business or a fellow American. Just because he’s “white” might not mean he’s trustworthy … for sure. Crookedness and opportunistic cheating us definitely color-blind.
You can get scammed in the Philippines, we all agree, but it certainly won’t always be by a Filipino … or so this old man opines.