Second only to flight money, the Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) is the scammers highest paying income.
Also known as the Personal Travel Allowance, Travellers Allowance Fee, Travellers Assistance Fund, Travellers Assurance Fund and numerous other forms of “I have to have wodges of your cash or they won’t let me fly”.
Let’s get this over with now … THERE IS NO SUCH THING any more, anywhere, it’s an online dating scam.
First of all look at the wording Basic Travel ALLOWANCE, not basic travel requirement.
In the same way as we now have cigarette and alcohol allowances (ie the maximum amount you can take into/out of a country) the BTA used to be the maximum amount of local currency that could be exchanged and taken out of a country.
If poorer nations just allowed everyone to take as much cash as they liked out of their country the economy would be dead in the water in a week.
Therefore, poorer countries introduced the BTA to limit the amount of local currency that exited their country. This was scrapped 3-4 decades ago and replaced with other currency allowances but it gives the scammers an excellent legitimate sounding tool to get your money.
Something vital to understand is that third world countries don’t care who leaves or if they ever come back, the people that care are the country the person is travelling to.
This means that during the visa application process the applicant must prove to the visa section of the country they are visiting that they, or their sponsor, is financially able to pay for travel and expenses.
Very occasionally passport control at their destination country may randomly ask a traveller how much cash they have (this is usually when someone from a third world country arrives for a two week stay with 10 suitcases) and 50-100 pounds sterling/dollars or equivalent is more than adequate.
There is NO requirement, anywhere, for the person to show their government/travel agency/airline that they have 1000 pounds/dollars in cash … it’s a spinoff from the Nigerian 419 dating scam and a very effective one.
The usual amount asked for in terms of BTA is between 800 and 3000 pounds or dollars.
Let’s put this into context … on the Nigerian section of the Expat Blog we see:
the cost of living in Nigeria… a bit of an odd question as 90% of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.
So if you send them 1000 pounds (without calculating the flight money etc) you have just paid them 8 years basic living allowance.
Bet you wish someone would give you 8 years of salary free for just making a couple of phone calls and sending a few emails!!
Not hitting home yet?
Let’s try something more visual. At todays exchange rate 1000 British pounds is 241,127.33 NGN (nigerian currency).
Now go to Nigeria Car Finder and in the second hand car section leave everything as any and set the price to 250000
My search showed that your hard earned cash could buy a scammer:
1992 Honda, Accord … takes just 1 successful scam (flight and BTA money)
1993 190e mercedes, 1993 model … takes just 1 successful scam (flight +BTA)
2000 Mercedes-Benz, 200-Series … takes just 3 successful scams (flight and BTA)
Now then, do YOU drive a mercedes?
What about a home in a well-to-do area?
“Real estate for sale: 3 bedroom bungalow in cornerstone estate Price: 7 million”
So they just have to scam 10 people in the UK out of 3000 pounds for flight/BTA/hospital etc and bingo, they can live the high life without a mortgage … can you?
I’m sorry to be so brutal about this but you MUST understand that sending these people money is the equivalent of you having a half decent win on the lottery.
To make matters worse if you send them just 1 pound or dollar they will never leave you alone, you will have to change your online details, your home phone number, your mobile number and perhaps even move house to get away from them.
If you are reading this because you think you might be being scammed (requests for large sums of money to be sent through Western Union for BTA or flights) then I almost guarantee you are.
If you have already sent money then don’t feel ashamed, they prey on the humans most basic instinct, to love and be loved.
However, cease all contact immediately … don’t decide they might just be genuine so I’ll give them a couple of days, if you are reading this your head is sending you alarm signals, listen to them.
Conclusion: There is no such thing as Basic Travel Allowance or any other terms which suggest such a thing, the BTA is a dating scam.
(please note the photo of the boys used in this blog post are not known dating scammers, it is simply a photo of boys in Africa)