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David E. Silva May 14th, 2002 08:53 PM

Cabo San Lucas Scam Warning
<BR><BR>To whom it may concern,<BR><BR> On 05/02/2002, my friends and I took our annual trip to Cabo San Lucas to fish and relax. There were 15 of us in all. We have been taking this one week trip during Cinco de Mayo for 8 years now. We have all enjoyed Mexico and the Mexican people very much. We are usually treated very well while we're there and our hotel (Melia San Lucas) has always been outstanding.<BR><BR>However, this year was not the same. We were very disappointed with the way some of the Mexican people treated us. Specifically, while we were in some of the restaurants or bars, we would pay for our purchases with American dollars. The change would come in Mexican pesos. That in itself was not a problem. The problem was that the pesos were counterfeit. When we tried to pay for more drinks (in the same establishment) they would not take the pesos they just gave us. They would tell us they were "counterfeit". We took them to another bar and they said the same thing. I personally lost $60.00 and another person in our group lost $80.00. Once this took place, we would only take American dollars in change and sometimes this proved difficult.<BR><BR>Another problem we had was the local Police. It was clear that they are running a scam on American tourists. One of the people in our group was walking down the street and was approached by a Mexican man. This man asked<BR> our group member if he wanted to buy drugs. This did not sit well with our group member. When our friend said "NO" he was harassed by this "pusher". One block down the street, our group member was rousted from the street<BR>by the Mexican police. The police said he was being arrested for soliciting drugs. This was untrue. The police wanted all of his money to pay the "fine" or he would go to jail. When he told the police he had no money, they drove him to the ATM machine and made him remove the money from his account. They left him there.<BR><BR>I myself saw this same thing happen to another American person (that I did not know). I also do not know if he actually did purchase drugs or not. I believe that ANY person (American or not) should be arrested for buying drugs. I also believe the police should tackle the drug problem from another angle. Bust the pushers! Or, do they NOT do that because they are making money from this scam. Sell the American drugs, roust him, make him pay a "fine", take the drugs and give them back to the pusher. The pusher gets to keep the money he makes from the American and the police keep the money from the "fine". It's very obvious what's happening.<BR><BR> Needless to say, our annual trip next year will not include Cabo San Lucas or Mexico at all for that matter. When you walk down a street in a tourist town, you should feel comfortable and safe. You should not be approached by drug pushers and prostitutes at every street corner. This was a very disappointing trip for all of us and we will NOT return.<BR><BR>Regards,<BR>David E. Silva

Anon May 14th, 2002 09:54 PM

Mr. DeSilva a similiar scam was reported in their local paper in Cabo San Luca where the police forced a tourist to remove $500 from the ATM for them. The tourist reported it to the prosecutors office they in turn put the police in jail till the tourist left town then they released these offenders.<BR><BR>I only hope you write the State Dept. and post this on Frommers and the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree so everyone is aware of this scam.

Mark May 14th, 2002 09:58 PM

It is pretty sad that an responsible, adult male can be arrested for wanting to smoke a joint. It's pretty hilarious that you spend so much time in a bar, but you think all drug users should be arrested. I'll take a dopehead over a drunk any day. The solution to your complaint is obvious: legalize drugs.

x May 15th, 2002 07:33 AM

so did you report it?<BR>the only way corruption is going to be stopped is to get badge numbers, names and report anything that seems shady. have had several incidents with the federalies and when we refuse to give them bribe money, tell them we want to go to the station and get the "ticket", get badge number etc....suddenly they don't have the time to deal with you.

Peggy May 15th, 2002 08:20 AM

I understand your reluctance to return to Cabo. We used to go annually but have stopped. Sad to say, it was the influx of cruise ships, drunk Americans (yes I'm American) who think they can act anyway they want in someone else's country & overcharging entrepreneurs that ruined the place. It is not just a tourist town built for our enjoyment. It was a small safe charming Mexican town until it was "discovered". That doesn't justify the actions you spoke of but think about what precipitated it. Their cost of living has skyrocketed & they do not profit from all the American owned hotels etc. It is a bad situation & not unique but it is a shame for the people that live there & for the innocent (some are not so innocent!)tourist that gets caught up in it. Sorry about your experience. Time to move on.

Anon May 15th, 2002 03:58 PM

Mr. DeSilva I am glad that you came forth and posted your experience so the rest of us could benefit.<BR><BR>Police Corruption in Cabo has been an issue that has been addressed in their local papers. Over the years they have run a number of scams on the tourist.<BR><BR>My complaint about this ,is that for it to be written up in their local papers and that the people who live there are aware of this problem ,why is it the tourists are not informed by the Tour Operators and travel agents who sell them the holiday packages.<BR><BR>I find it hard to believe that the tour operaters and agents that do the Airline and Hotel Packages are unaware of this problem. Maybe this is a question for an attorney to answer?<BR><BR>I believe that we should be informed of problems within these resorts when we make our selections to purchase our vacations and it is time for the travel industry to take responsiblty to keep us informed as people who buy vacation packages or let them here from our attorneys for undue stress and anxiety incurred from vacationing in a resort where we get shaken down.

Anony May 15th, 2002 08:58 PM

I couldn't agree more that it is time that the tour operators came clean as far as what goes down there. <BR><BR>It is my opinion that it is only a matter of time till they are incurrring lawsuits as a result of failure to disclose problems that are taking place in some of these resorts.<BR><BR>I have followed the message boards and if people knew the full extent of what is taking place as far as real estate scams, manipulative time share practices, and police shake-downs they would be choosing an alternative vacation destination.

Mr.x May 16th, 2002 07:07 PM

To the top for Amy. Be Aware.

a Professional Agent May 16th, 2002 08:31 PM

Just say NO. It works like a Charm weather it is Time Share, Drugs, Real Estate or Prostitution.<BR>JUST SAY NO!!!!

xxxx May 16th, 2002 09:04 PM

Too bad "just saying no" didn't work for Mr. Silva's friend resulting in his shakedown by the police.

Anony May 17th, 2002 06:48 PM

Mr. Professional Agent I wonder if you are like some of those travel agents who try to justify the Mexican Police abuse of the tourist so they do not have to take responsibilty to inform the tourist as to what is going on and keep selling those packages.<BR><BR>I wonder if agents are getting bonuses for selling resorts where tourism is exceptionally low.<BR><BR>If you have ever seen a Mexican Police Shake-down there is no way you would be encouraging people to say a simple NO.<BR>No is a word that is not accepted when these thugs are putting the muscle on the tourist. <BR><BR>Police corruption is a well reported issue in Mexican newspapers but when it is happening to the tourists in a place as small as Cabo it is high time the travel agents/operators inform the tourist as to what awaits them.

Anony May 17th, 2002 06:51 PM

Mr. Professional Agent when the tourist is being passed counterfeit Pesos who should they turn to? The Police?<BR><BR>If restuarants are passing off counterfeit Pesos in Cabo why are the authorities not investiagating?

Cabo Cutie May 18th, 2002 08:11 PM

It's an accepted fact tnat here on the Board there are a number of shills who live/work in CSL that post the most facile BS about how great the place is.<BR><BR>We who have been there/experienced the squalor/thievery/brutality and open drug trafficking extant know othwerwise.

ssh May 19th, 2002 07:21 AM

We have been goingo to Cabo for for thelast eight years and it has always been problem free until last year. Another scam is at teh gas stations. When you give the attendant your money for teh gas, the quickly change the bill to a lower denomination, and then tell you only gave them 20 pesos vs. 200 pesos for exmaple. This happened to us one time last year, and again this year, but this year we were prepared. When my husband threatened to report the attendant, he said he was sorry it must have been his mistake. Shortly after this incident, an article appeared in the local "Gringo Gazette" that also addressed the "Scam", and their advice was to immediately report the incident to the manager of the station. Most of the people in Cabo absolutely wonderful,unfortunatley there are always a few bad apples so while in Cabo you most be constantly be on your guard with any exchange of money.

Mr. x May 19th, 2002 05:26 PM

Maybe it has been problem free for you the last eight years but not for many.<BR>Police shakedowns have been goin for years. <BR>Drugs are being dealt out on the street.<BR>Pushers are pushing, strippers are strippin, hookers are hookin. That's life in Cabo. Pary Town. One road in and one road out. Heard it said the highway to Cabo is like a sewer pipe where the turds pop out the other end dressed as timeshare. Haven't seen it but heard it. <BR>

Curious May 19th, 2002 08:02 PM

Sorry to be so ill-informed, but is this problem of corrupt police shakedowns common elsewhere in Mexico or just Cabo? For example, in Puerto Vallarta? This is very disturbing.

xxxx May 19th, 2002 09:18 PM

I haven't seen any posts of an actual "shakedown" occurring in PV. Recently, though, it was reported on another board that a tourist who was very inebriated decided to relieve himself between 2 buildings on his walk back to his hotel. Two tourist police (a special unit geered toward assisting the tourists) appeared out of nowhere and gave him the choice of going to jail or giving them $20. He apparently was so intoxicated, that he just handed over the money he had, being about $50. This incident might fall under the age-old "mordida" system of Mexico of bribery to stay out of trouble rather than what I term a "shakedown"...haven't looked up the word, but see it used more for a situation where someone is framed for something they didn't do and then forced to pay up.

Anon May 20th, 2002 05:48 PM

There is mention in this week gringo gazette that there is a new police chief appointed. A woman and maybe she can do something about the extortion and harrasment of the tourists by the police.

Anon May 21st, 2002 05:57 PM

The Gazette did a piece on Real Estate industry down there and brought out the lack of enforcement against an agent who stole a clients money, no back ground checks on people selling, the industry is out of control and nothing will change until the legal system changes. This was found to be corrupt in a U.N. report where over 70% of judges were open or had accepted bribes.

xxxxx May 22nd, 2002 05:17 PM

Don't get caught up in that timeshare <BR>B.S. you want to buy one then check out the resells on You can get em between $2000 and $3000 with mucho years remaining.<BR>Nothin harder to get rid of than used timeshare.<BR><BR><BR><BR>

x May 23rd, 2002 01:27 PM

Is Cancun & PDC like this also? Anony, you mentioned that you've been following other message boards that stated similar things happening in other places.-- which places?

Anony May 23rd, 2002 09:09 PM

The Thorn Tree has had a number of reports on the Police taking advantage of the tourist. They were a couple of teenagers who had their money taken from them in Mazatland. <BR>CNN just did a piece on the Mexican Police in Mex. City being given 2 months vacation as an attempt to clean up corruption by the traffic cops. <BR>Real Estate Scams have been posted on other boards. TRUST NO ONE.

x May 25th, 2002 08:28 AM

Anony: I agree with you. Do you or does anyone else know if these things (mainly with the police) are happening in Cancun, PDC or Cozumel?

ttt May 31st, 2002 11:50 AM

You have been warned. Be Aware.

Anonymoose Jun 5th, 2002 08:45 PM

If you check this June 3, 02 Gringo Gazette you will find Mr. Silvas story published along with another couple who called pulled over and got the bite put on them. Letters to The Editor.<BR><BR>We got it on Fodors first.

Anony Jun 6th, 2002 05:24 PM

I read the letters to the editor pages 16, 17, 22, 25 it is broken into sections. <BR><BR>What I found interesting the police will pull you over for anything fictious.<BR><BR>Not only that Page 2 and The Publishers Comments On the "slimy real estate industry."<BR><BR>What I found very funny is a vacationer's theory that the reason the prices are so high in Cabo is to induce people to attend Timeshare presentations to get a break on the prices. Then again there may be some truth in it.<BR>

bajafan Jun 8th, 2002 01:11 PM

My husband and I went to Cabo last August for the first time and absolutely loved it. We were treated very well and did not have a single unpleasant encounter. We actually loved it so much we bought a timeshare at Pueblo Bonto Rose and it is our plan to go each year, our next trip scheduled for July 1. We went to Mazatlan in March with our son, daughter and their college friends and had no problems there either. I'm sure if you look for trouble you can find it anywhere.

ttt Jun 14th, 2002 11:14 AM

For Nina.

ttt Aug 31st, 2002 10:41 AM

For PJ

KJensen Jun 8th, 2012 10:16 AM

The drugs in Mexico are controled and sold by the police, of course the police are the ones perpatrating the scams. I have been traveling to CSL for thirty years and this is old news. I have found that if you are asked to pay a fine, ask for a written ticket and ask to pay it at the police station. That way you have a paper trail and proof. Never go alone anywhere. Use your phone to record events, on the sly, or they will take your phone away from you. Mexico is a trap for drunks, I don't drink and I keep my witts about me. Best way not to get ripped off is to not travel to Mexico. Most people I know no longer go.

suze Jun 8th, 2012 12:08 PM

Yes it is "old news", this post is 10 YEARS old!

I know plenty of people who still go to Mexico. In fact I don't know anyone who has traveled there in the past who has stopped going.

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