‘Tanim-bala’ scam first reported in 2012 in travel website
LOS ANGELES – International travelers had been warned against what is now called the “tanim-bala (bullet-planting)” extortion scheme at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as early as 2012.
The father of a British woman who was allegedly victimized by the scam posted the warning in a forum on the popular international travel site TripAdvisor on Sept. 17, 2012.
Identified only as “BritPaul” from Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, he said the airport staff found a bullet casing in his daughter’s bag and asked for $1,000 in exchange for fixing her case by erasing the security X-Ray image showing the prohibited item.
“(The staff) ‘found’ a bullet casing and told her there would be an investigation and that she would have to miss her flight,” BritPaul said in his post. “Obviously, she was very frightened and distressed.”
He said that because her daughter only had $100, she was “taken to an ATM and the agent pocketed the money.”
“Be careful at (the) Manila Airport!” warned BritPaul on TripAdvisor, which claims to host the largest travel community in the world. The Massachusetts-based company said it has been operating in 47 countries and its travel site has had 375 million visitors per month.
BritPaul said that he was going to file a complaint with the tourism and airport authorities and contact the media, but it was not known if he pushed through with his plan.
“The Philippines (is) promoting tourism. It is a lovely country with lovely people. This individual should be stopped. Be warned. That bullet case will have been used over and over again,” he said.
There has recently been a spike in the number of alleged “tanim-bala” incidents, which have gained international attention and created fear among travellers and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has started an investigation into the alleged “tanim bala” scam after a 34-year-old housewife Josie Marie Paz Trias filed a complaint saying that her mother and 75-year-old grandmother were traumatized when they fell prey to the scam. SFM
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