Avoiding Bribes While Traveling

Avoiding Bribes While Traveling 1000 667 Greg Ellifritz

Bribes are a part of daily life in the developing world.  American tourists are aghast at the idea of paying off a corrupt cop, but few realize that paying a small bribe will generally be the least expensive way to deal with the police and judicial system in a foreign country.


Here are some good tips to remember.  Following these guidelines may reduce the chance that you will be targeted in a bribery scheme.


Option Gray: Avoiding Bribes While Traveling


Police Extortion in Bali

Police Extortion in Bali 629 357 Greg Ellifritz

Last week I wrote about a Nigerian police extortion effort targeting gay folks.  In this week’s installment of police corruption news, here is a video of a couple traffic officers extorting a bribe from a Japanese tourist in Bali.


Police Caught On Video Extorting Tourist In Bali


The tourist’s motorcycle headlight didn’t work (during a daytime ride).  The fine for the offense is the US equivalent of $7.  The tourist paid a $60 bribe to get out of the ticket.



If you want information about how to handle interactions like this, I have an entire chapter on the topic in my book Choose Adventure.



African Police Extortion Efforts

African Police Extortion Efforts 641 358 Greg Ellifritz


According to this article Nigerian Police Officers are using the pandemic as an excuse to harass the LGBTQ community, forcing them to pay their way out of trouble..


Nigerian Police Are Extorting People Who ‘Look Gay’


If you aren’t gay and vacationing in sunny Nigeria, why should you care?


You should care because this is the way corrupt foreign cops/soldiers extort everyone.  This month they are extorting gay folks.  They will use the same tactics next month to get bribe money from “drug users,”  foreign tourists, or people they suspect having Covid-19.  The rationale for the extortion is always something different, but the net effects are the same.

Take some time to read this story and come up with a plan to handle similar situations.


Would you get on the bus like these folks did?


Would you unlock your phone?


Would you pay the $200 bribe?


Have you considered that your personal appearance could make you the target of corrupt police officers?


You should think about all these issues before your next international trip.


International Police Corruption

International Police Corruption 350 233 Greg Ellifritz

A short informative article that quickly explains the basis for some of the third world police corruption that you’ll see if you travel.

How The Police Make Money In Bangladesh (And Most Other Countries)


Americans get all worked up over this, but I suggest you deal with it like the locals. Try to avoid the cops at all costs. If accosted, give a small bribe.


It’s important to know what the local bribery rate is so you don’t get overcharged as a foreigner. I find this information out by asking my first taxi driver. “Are the police corrupt here?” Inevitably, they will answer “yes.” My next question is “How much money do they ask for if you are stopped?” Taxi drivers know the drill and will give you the information you need.


Most of the time it’s easier just to give up the $5-$20 rather than fight or argue with the cop for hours and risk the chance of getting arrested if he plants some drugs in your car or on your person.

You can find a lot more information in the chapter on bribery in Choose Adventure- Safe Travel in Dangerous Places.



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How Thieves Operate

How Thieves Operate 875 603 Greg Ellifritz

This is a fairly in-depth article about the way that thieves operate in foreign countries.  It’s well worth the few minutes it takes to read it.  Almost all the thefts I’ve seen in my foreign travels has fit into one of the author’s categories.  Highly recommended.

Top 10 types of travel theft (and how to be safe)