Dear Pa Farang,
A friend and I had a strange thing happen to us on a recent trip to Patong. While walking down a major thoroughfare, we were approached by two men who flashed badges at us, told us they were international drug police, and insisted on searching our bags. Something didn’t seem right, so we insisted they accompany us to a police station, in a taxi. They turned around and walked away.
We’re still puzzled, but suspect something wasn’t quite kosher. Anything you could tell us would help.
– Jim & Jerry
Dear Jim and Jerry,
Yes! You were nearly the victim of a scam gaining popularity inMalaysia. If you had allowed your bags to be searched, they would have surrepticiously slipped some real drugs inside, “found” them, and tried to shake you down for cash in lieu of “arrest.” This has been quite successful in recent months, in Patong as well asKuala Lumpur. Our contacts tell us that Asians, more than non-Asians, are often the victims, as they are perceived as being less confrontational.
You did the right thing, by insisting on going to a police station right away, and good thing you suggested taking a taxi. If you had accompanied them in their own auto, the end of the story might not have been favorable.
Remember to avoid all scams, show the Good Manner, and have a great time in Asia,
– Pa Farang
Read Pa Farang’s other columns for more advice on relationships and scams in Southeast Asia