A SUNSHINE Coast man has spent almost two weeks in a mosquito-infested Ecuador prison - all because he overstayed his travel visa by three days.
Roger Keays, 32, was touring Ecuador with his girlfriend when authorities accused him of staying in the country illegally.
He was thrown into prison for 13 days with no legal advice or access to a phone.
The only option for his release was to pay a lawyer $2000 to lie.
Police grilled the Buderim man while he was waiting at a bus stop to leave the country - just days after his visa had expired.
A week earlier, officials had told Mr Keays he could stay in the country until a second visa, which he had tried twice to renew, was approved.
"They said, 'You do not need to worry. If you overstay there's no fine and you can't get arrested'," he said.
"They were half right. I didn't have to pay a fine."
He spent the first 13 days of June locked up with Ecuador's worst drug traffickers, thieves, alcoholics and mosquitoes.
"We slept on concrete bunks and ate from a bucket three times a day," he said.
"There were lots of mosquitoes and the prison guards sold mosquito coils and cigarettes to make money. There were small insects and spiders in the cell."
In desperation, Mr Keays used a smuggled phone pressed up against the bathroom wall, in the only spot the compound had a signal. He called his girlfriend who was frantically racing around the city trying to find a way to get him released.
"Pretty soon she found a cousin who explained that all we had to do was pay the "multa" (fine) and I could leave, given that we have a de facto relationship," he said.
"So she gave him $100 for the multa and we waited."
Seven days passed before Mr Keays' girlfriend was given an answer.
"There was no multa. Her cousin had made it all up and forged my signature on one of my legal documents just to cheat us out of $100," he said.
A week after his arrest, police finally advised Mr Keays that he would need a lawyer to negotiate with the head of police, but even then his release was not certain.
"She (his girlfriend) searched frantically for a lawyer and eventually found someone who could help us for the special price of $2000 cash," he said.
"We drained my credit card, borrowed money from her aunt, paid and waited. Then she (his lawyer) took me aside and whispered the so-called details of my defence - my girlfriend was pregnant, I had dengue fever for three months and a urinal infection.
"I still can't believe I paid her $2000 to make up a bunch of lies."
A week later Mr Keays was released from prison. He has now been granted a further six-month tourist visa.
To read more on Mr Keays' story click here.