Investigation Launched into Manila Airport ‘Bullet Scam’
An extortion scheme known as a “bullet scam” allegedly occurring at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport has been uncovered — and officials are hopping mad, the BBC reported.
Airport personnel are accused of dropping bullets into passenger luggage as they go through security, then when they are “discovered,” making them pay a fine or face charges of illegal ammunition possession, the BBC said.
"This is becoming an international embarrassment," said Sherwin Gatchalian, vice-chairman of the tourism committee in the House of Representatives, per the BBC.
Senator Ralph Recto pointed out, according to the BBC that "There is no working system that is guarding the guards."
Two travelers who were recent victims of the alleged scam were taken into custody when ammunition was found in their possession.
Overseas Filipino worker Gloria Ortinez was about to fly to Hong Kong from Manila when a bullet showed up in her hand luggage. Ortinez said the bullet did not belong to her and she “would never carry one because of Hong Kong's strict security laws,” the BBC said.
Ortinez spent “several days” in Office of Transportation Security (OTS) detention before being released, according to the BBC.
The other recent arrestee, per the BBC, was Japanese tourist Kazunobu Sakamoto, who was taken into custody after two bullets were found in his luggage and he could not show documentation that he was authorized to carry ammunition.
As explained by the BBC, some victims of the alleged scheme were released after the bullets turned out to be blanks, though others went to court for refusing to pay the fines.
Locals have been critical of airport authorities over the alleged scam, and Gatchalian denounced OTS staff, saying they were "not afraid to prey on foreigners," the BBC said.
Airport surveillance has been ramped up after the complaints were made, the BBC revealed, and accused personnel are being investigated.
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