The Manila airport has become notorious for a specific type of scam known as the ‘bullet scam’. Unsuspecting travellers are approached by someone claiming to have found a bullet in their luggage. The scammer pressures the victim into paying a ‘fine’ in order to avoid getting into trouble with airport authorities.

If you’re travelling through Manila airport, it’s crucial to be aware of this scam so you don’t fall victim.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the Manila airport bullet scam, including how it works, why travellers are targeted, what you can do to avoid it, and how to handle the situation if you do become a victim.

What Exactly is the Manila Airport Bullet Scam?

The Manila Airport Bullet Scam is a notorious scheme that targets unsuspecting travelers passing through Manila’s international airports. It involves planting bullets in a passenger’s luggage without their knowledge or consent, and then accusing them of carrying illegal ammunition.

This scam has caused distress and inconvenience for many travelers, tarnishing the reputation of the airport and the country as a whole.

The Basic Scam

In the basic version of the scam, corrupt airport personnel or individuals working in collusion with them will discreetly slip a bullet into a passenger’s bag during the security screening process. Once the bag is flagged by the X-ray machine, the passenger is subjected to a thorough search, during which the planted bullet is “discovered.”

The victim is then accused of attempting to smuggle ammunition and is faced with the threat of legal consequences or extortion.

Variations of the Scam

The Manila Airport Bullet Scam has evolved over the years, with perpetrators coming up with new ways to deceive unsuspecting travelers. One variation involves planting bullets not just in the passenger’s bag, but also in their pockets or personal belongings.

This makes it even more difficult for the victim to prove their innocence and escape the false accusations.

Another variation of the scam involves the use of distraction techniques. Scammers may create a commotion or engage the victim in conversation, diverting their attention away from their belongings. In this momentary lapse, the bullet is planted, and the victim is none the wiser until it’s too late.

Why Travellers Are Targeted

Travelers are targeted for several reasons. Firstly, they are often in a rush to catch their flights or are unfamiliar with airport procedures, making them more vulnerable to manipulation. Additionally, scammers may assume that travelers have valuables or cash on them, making them attractive targets for extortion.

It is important to note that not all airport personnel are involved in this scam. The vast majority of airport staff are hardworking individuals dedicated to ensuring the safety and comfort of travelers.

However, it is always wise for passengers to stay vigilant and take precautions to protect themselves from falling victim to this scam.

How to Avoid Falling Victim to the Scam

Be Wary of Strangers Approaching

One of the best ways to avoid falling victim to the Manila Airport Bullet Scam is to be cautious of strangers approaching you. Scammers often work in teams, with one person distracting you while another tries to slip a bullet into your luggage.

Be wary of anyone who seems overly friendly or helpful, especially if they approach you out of the blue. It’s important to remember that not everyone who approaches you at the airport has good intentions.

Tip: If someone approaches you and makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and politely decline their assistance.

Keep Your Luggage Secure

Keeping your luggage secure is crucial in preventing the scam. Make sure to invest in sturdy and reliable luggage that is difficult to tamper with. Additionally, consider using luggage locks or zip ties to further secure your bags.

These small measures can make it more challenging for scammers to plant bullets or other illegal items without your knowledge.

Tip: Keep an eye on your luggage at all times, especially during check-in and security screening. If you notice any signs of tampering or suspicious activity, report it immediately to airport authorities.

Don’t Pay Any ‘Fines’

Scammers involved in the bullet scam often pose as airport security personnel and accuse unsuspecting travelers of carrying illegal items. They then demand payment of a fine to avoid legal trouble. Remember: legitimate airport authorities will never ask you to pay fines on the spot.

If you are approached by someone claiming to be a security officer and asking for money, refuse and report the incident to the nearest airport staff or police.

Tip: Familiarize yourself with the proper procedures and policies of the airport you are traveling from. This will help you differentiate between legitimate airport staff and scammers.

Report Suspicious Behavior

If you witness any suspicious behavior or believe you have been targeted by the Manila Airport Bullet Scam, report it immediately to airport authorities. By reporting these incidents, you are not only protecting yourself but also helping to prevent others from falling victim to the scam.

Providing detailed information about the individuals involved, including physical descriptions, can greatly assist authorities in their investigations.

Tip: Save the contact information of the airport authorities in your phone or carry a printed copy with you. This way, you can quickly and easily report any suspicious activity.

What to Do if You Become a Victim

Discovering that you have fallen victim to the Manila Airport Bullet Scam can be extremely distressing. However, it is important to stay calm and take immediate action to protect yourself and seek justice. Here are three crucial steps to follow if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation:

1. Don’t Pay Anything

If someone accuses you of carrying a bullet in your luggage and demands money, do not pay. It is important to remember that this scam is designed to extort money from innocent travelers by creating fear and confusion.

By refusing to pay, you are not only protecting your own rights, but also preventing the scammers from profiting from their illegal activities.

2. Call for Help

As soon as you realize that you have been targeted by the bullet scam, seek assistance immediately. Look for airport authorities, security personnel, or airline staff and inform them about the incident. They are trained to handle such situations and can provide the necessary support and guidance.

Remember, you are not alone, and there are people who are ready to help you.

3. File a Police Report

After alerting the authorities at the airport, it is essential to file a police report to officially document the incident. The police report will serve as evidence and can be crucial in bringing the scammers to justice.

Provide a detailed account of what happened, including any identifying information about the individuals involved. Cooperate fully with the police investigation to ensure that justice is served.

Remember, taking these steps can help protect yourself and prevent others from falling victim to the Manila Airport Bullet Scam. Stay vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the authorities. For more information and updates on travel scams, you can visit reputable websites like or

Why the Scam Continues at Manila Airport

The Manila Airport Bullet Scam has been a persistent issue for both locals and tourists alike. Despite efforts to address the problem, the scam continues to victimize unsuspecting travelers. Several factors contribute to the persistence of this scam:

Lack of Awareness

One of the reasons why the scam continues to thrive is due to a lack of awareness among travelers. Many people are simply not aware that such a scam exists, making them easy targets. The perpetrators take advantage of this lack of knowledge and exploit the vulnerability of unsuspecting passengers.

It is crucial for travelers to educate themselves about the common scams and tricks that are prevalent in airports. By staying informed, individuals can better protect themselves from falling victim to such fraudulent activities.

Preying on Tourists

Tourists are particularly vulnerable to the Manila Airport Bullet Scam. The scammers often target foreigners who are unfamiliar with the airport and its procedures. These tourists are more likely to be disoriented and easily manipulated, making them ideal targets for the scam.

Furthermore, tourists are often seen as easy prey because they are less likely to report the incident or pursue legal action due to the inconvenience and unfamiliarity with the local legal system. Scammers take advantage of this hesitation, knowing that their actions are less likely to be investigated or punished.


Corruption within the airport system is another contributing factor to the persistence of the scam. The involvement of airport personnel, either directly or indirectly, enables the scammers to operate with relative impunity.

This corruption undermines efforts to combat the scam and creates an environment where illegal activities can flourish.

Efforts to address corruption within the airport system are crucial in eradicating the Manila Airport Bullet Scam. Strict enforcement of regulations, thorough background checks and training for airport personnel, and the implementation of effective surveillance systems can help deter corrupt practices.

Travel Tips for Manila Airport

Research Common Scams

When traveling through the Manila Airport, it is important to be aware of common scams that may target unsuspecting tourists. One such scam is the infamous “bullet scam,” where airport personnel plant bullets in the luggage of passengers and then extort money from them in exchange for avoiding legal trouble.

To protect yourself from falling victim to this scam, it is crucial to research and educate yourself about it before your trip. Look for credible sources such as travel advisory websites or news articles that provide information on the latest scams and how to avoid them.

By being well-informed, you can stay one step ahead and ensure a safe and hassle-free journey.

Use Official Transportation

Another important tip for navigating the Manila Airport is to use official transportation services. Upon arrival, you may encounter individuals offering taxi or transportation services outside the airport premises.

While some of these may be legitimate, it is always safer to opt for official modes of transportation such as airport taxis or ride-sharing services like Grab. These services have a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy, providing you with peace of mind during your journey.

Additionally, using official transportation reduces the risk of falling prey to scammers who may overcharge you or take advantage of your unfamiliarity with the area.

Stay Vigilant in Public Areas

Manila Airport, like any other busy airport, attracts a diverse range of people, including potential scammers. It is essential to stay vigilant and cautious, especially in public areas such as waiting lounges and baggage claim areas.

Keep your belongings within sight at all times and avoid leaving them unattended. Be wary of individuals who approach you with unsolicited offers or requests, as they may be attempting to distract or deceive you.

Trust your instincts and if something feels off, it is best to err on the side of caution. By staying alert and aware of your surroundings, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to scams or theft.


The Manila airport bullet scam can easily catch travellers off guard due to how convincing the scammers can be. However, awareness and vigilance are your best defenses. If you prepare yourself by learning about the scam and taking precautions, you can avoid becoming the next victim.

Spread the word to fellow travellers and contact authorities if you do encounter the scam. With prudence and caution, you can safely pass through Manila airport without falling prey to this insidious con.

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