A government led investigation is apparently underway in the Philippines regarding an alleged “bullet scam” against passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, also known as Manila International Airport (MNL).

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The “bullet scam” goes like this: Airport security officials slip a bullet or two into passengers’ bags before the illegal ammunition is “discovered” by security. The passengers are threatened with arrest and jail if they do not pay a fine or bail money (read: extorted) directly to the official.

bullet scam

The “bullet scam” preys on travelers, but there are steps you can take to help protect yourself

As word of the alleged scam has traveled fast and been reported on several international news outlets (TIME and BBC for example), the Filipino government has quickly called for an investigation to curb the illegal scam that has targeted citizens and foreigners.

What can you do to protect yourself for such a scam?
In an attempt to be proactive about guarding against the “bullet scam” targeting you, keep these tips in mind:

  • Whenever possible, keep your baggage within your line of sight. If it is not checked baggage and someone starts to move your bag out of your view, speak up and question them.
  • If an official requires extra screening or searching of your possessions, try to request a supervisor or additional official be present.
  • Be sure there are cameras (CCTV) in the area.
  • Use baggage locks for all your bags, but when the officials have met your requests on the points above, cooperate with their requests to open them. Be firm, but courteous.
  • Remain calm and try to involve as many officials as possible. (They want to minimize the sharing of the scam money.)
  • If all else fails, demand to speak to the United States Consulate Office.


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