A well-known scam in Bolivia is the “fake policeman” scam. The scam, which typically targets tourists, operates in the following manner. An accomplice will make contact with the intended victim, often in the guise of being a fellow tourist either asking for or offering help. The two of you will then be approached by an individual claiming to be a plain-clothed undercover policeman. The “policemen” will ask to see your passports. The accomplice will comply and may advise you to do the same, claiming that it has happened to him before. Should you hand over your passport, the pair will make off with it and any other valuables they have managed to coax out of you. There are a number of variations which aim to increase the success of the robbery:
- You and your belongings may be searched and any valuables stolen.
- You may be asked to accompany the pair to the police station by taxi, which enables them to more easily rob you.
- You may be forced to an ATM to take out money for the robbers.
- Especially around transport terminals, the accomplice may offer to share a taxi with you. When the policeman stops the taxi and asks you to get out, the taxi driver (also in on the scam) drives off with your luggage.
- There may be more than one accomplice.
- The fake cop may produce a (fake) badge in an attempt to appear more authentic.