A number of Bhutanese have fallen for a scam in Jaigaon where they are momentarily distracted and then robbed.
The scam involves at least two people; one who points out that the victim has dropped some money while the other snatches the victim’s luggage when the victim is distracted.
Some have apparently lost hundreds of thousands of Ngultrums in cash and other valuables that were left in the luggage.
Such incidents have occurred elsewhere; for instance in Thailand some were duped in an apparently elaborate scam where the victim is asked to show what Bhutanese currency looks like, only to be left with an empty wallet and pockets.
There is clearly a need for more awareness to be raised on avoiding becoming victims of such scams.
But who is responsible for providing it?
Footage of the recent scam in Jaigaon has been caught by surveillance cameras and shared on social media by some concerned citizens in an effort to educate.
But there is more to be done and for more to be involved in educating. The authorities should get involved. They should be involved because more Bhutanese are travelling abroad more frequently.
We are supposedly a naive and gullible community in general.
For instance, even one of our banks recently transferred huge sums of money authorised by a single email from an account that had been hacked.
Even within the country now, some are taking advantage of our blind trust. There have been visa scams, pyramid schemes, and what not, that have left some bankrupt.
But while local crimes can be tried in a local court and justice sought; abroad, the chances of recovering property or money is low.
While our naivety about how to cheat and steal may reflect well in an idealistic world, our world is one where the cunning prey on the weak.
It is for this reason that authorities need to take a more proactive role in raising the awareness of Bhutanese travelling abroad on what kinds of scams Bhutanese have fallen victim to, and what signs to look out for to prevent loss of property and money.
Cases can be recorded and shared by relevant authorities, which can then be shared with the public.
Tips such as not carrying large sums of money in bags or being alert could also be offered on social media or traditional media from time to time.
Officials manning the border gates could also explore ways of reminding those crossing the boundary about the risks of scams either through signboards or leaflets, or just a quick word of caution when required.