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Smuggling Tourists Scam

How the scam works:

You're in Thailand and have seen all Bangkok has to offer. You want to move to one of the neighboring countries for a couple of days and decide on Laos. You've met a few locals and have become quite chummy, so they recommend places for you to go to get the most out of your time there.

They even offer to go with you, since they know a lot of the local hot spots, and have some Laotian friends who will put you up for the week to save the costs of a hotel. Lucky you!

But as soon as you come to the border crossing your friends took you through, you're stopped by a couple of soldiers. They say you will be arrested for not having a Visa to travel there. The only way you'll be released is if you  give them money.

This scam is very common in Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, but it also occurs in South America. The soldiers could be real or fake; they just have agreements with locals who provide them “fresh” tourists.

How to avoid:

Consider travel to another country for a day only in organized groups. If you insist on traveling alone, research what visas are needed to get into each country. It's also a good idea to apply beforehand so you don't have to deal with it while you're on vacation where most authorities won't be able to speak your language.

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