Hard Lesson Learned in Mexico City

Old Mar 16th, 2023, 11:00 AM
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Hard Lesson Learned in Mexico City

After a wonderful 10 days in Oaxaca in Feb/March 2023 (see trip report) my husband and I went to Mexico City for 8 nights. Unfortunately, we both developed bronchial and sinus problems, though we still managed to do and see a fair amount.

On our last full day in Mexico City, my husband and I (late 60s, mid-70s) took a walk around Avenida Amsterdam, a lovely tree-lined oval walk of about 1+ miles in the very elegant area of Condesa. The walkway was filled with other people walking, strolling , jogging, people with baby carriages.,,you get the idea. Itís a very popular area to walk in a moderately upscale area, that is mixed with locals and tourists alike. Itís not the hectic Centro Historico. .

From somewhere above, we were hit by what seemed like a lot of bird poop. It covered us and we began trying to wipe it off but it really was everywhere. Two ďregular guysĒ of middling age came over and began to help wipe us off. After a few minutes, they left and, as we walked back to the hotel, I realized my wallet, with all my credit cards and IDs, was stolen, S%&T, I said. We were scammed.

We were both extremely upset (found out later this is a common scam, with a similar report to the police the day before) and felt very dumb, having fallen for the scam. And of course, itís the last time Iíll carry multiple IDs and more than one card. It was a very hard lesson learned.

The good news is that the CC companies caught it even before I contacted them and were able to cancel accounts right away. And I guess Iím glad that it happened at the end and not earlier. But it really left a lousy taste at the end.

Anyway, please donít shoot the messenger. I just want to make others aware to be on guard and not fall for such a nasty scam. It was pretty awful.
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Old Mar 16th, 2023, 01:03 PM
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Sorry to hear that you were scammed in Mexico City, and on Avenida Amsterdam of all places! I've heard of this tactic used elsewhere -- Rome and even Paris -- but I guess when you're the victim it's hard to understand what's happening and protect yourself. It's too bad also that you were feeling ill. I know you enjoyed yourself in Oaxaca and hope you had at least some good times in Mexico City.
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Old Mar 16th, 2023, 02:36 PM
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Sorry that happened to you - it is a common scam. Happened to me in the metro in Buenos Aires. I allowed the scammers to clean me up, but I wear a money belt, had nothing in my pockets and held my day pack, tightly, in front of me.

I do recommend wearing a money belt, I only have one day's money, and sometimes one credit card, in my day pack. The model I wear doesn't seem to be available right now, but this would work: https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/moneybelt - I wear it with the pouch at the back and feel undressed without it when I'm traveling.
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Old Mar 16th, 2023, 02:38 PM
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Shame, I guess even experienced travelers can let down their guards when they aren't feeling 100% and are not "situationally aware". Often the "best" neighborhoods attract thieves on the lookout for victims.

Hope that you didn't also come down with COVID? Seems to be making the rounds in CDMX.

I never have more than one credit card accessible when I am out and about.

If I am moving from one location to another by public transportation (plane or bus), a spare and extra cash might be in a "bra pouch" or even inside a shoe.
Amazon Amazon

I don't like money belts, find them uncomfortable especially in hot weather.

In a hotel, I still keep a spare hidden inside my suitcase, and the rest in the safe (they are not immune from theft).

Last edited by mlgb; Mar 16th, 2023 at 02:42 PM.
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Old Mar 16th, 2023, 02:46 PM
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Thanks for the kind words, all. I will certainly never carry all my cards and IDs again, though this is the first time I’ve ever experienced a scam like this. I’m angry at myself as I thought I was aware of the types of scams out but really, this wasn’t something I was familiar with. Doing a bit of poking around on the internet shows me how naive I was as it has been around for years.

mlgb, no, it wasn’t COVID, though I know of people who have gotten it here, too. Given the level of pollution (very high) and altitude, respiratory illnesses seem to be more common here for travelers. A close friend had visited Mexico City just a month before and she, too, came home with a bad sinus infection and cough.
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Old Mar 16th, 2023, 07:36 PM
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Well, that sucks. Caca pasa even when you try to prepare yourself. On our first trip to Mexico City years ago, we were with a young couple whom I figured I needed to be protective of, since we had traveled other parts of Mexico andvthey hadn't. I read the Lonely Planet guidebook which warned against using the Hidalgo metro station during certain times due to pickpockets. So what did I do? I had us take the metro from Hidalgo station to get us to Chapultepec. Car was crowded, girls got groped. Got off at Chapultepec, and guess what? Smart guy me was picked of all my cash. From my front pocket no less. Never felt a thing. Thankfully it was only about $15. Later I bought a pair of Scottevest hidden cargo pants.
https://www.scottevest.com/
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 03:04 AM
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Yeah, baldone, it really does stink. Oddly, we had no problem when we took the metro at all! We were prepared mentally when we were on the train and very aware. But Avenida Amsterdam in Condesa? Who’d a thunk it?

I like those Scottevests but yikes, they are expensive! Maybe for next trip….

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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 05:30 AM
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I had two friends pickpocket on a train boarded at Hidalgo, over twenty years ago. Since I bought them several rounds of margaritas at the hotel bar later that day, I'm not sure who lost the most money.
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Fra_Diavolo View Post
I had two friends pickpocket on a train boarded at Hidalgo, over twenty years ago. Since I bought them several rounds of margaritas at the hotel bar later that day, I'm not sure who lost the most money.
Sounds like quite a tossup - I won't make any bets here on who had the bigger loss!
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Old Mar 19th, 2023, 02:36 PM
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So sorry,progol. . We saw it happen in Buenos Aires and apparently itís common there too.
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Old Mar 19th, 2023, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr View Post
So sorry,progol. . We saw it happen in Buenos Aires and apparently itís common there too.
Thanks, HappyTrvlr, it was definitely the low point of the trip. Fortunately, it happened at the end and we were able to take care of the credit card and bank card cancellations that afternoon. Only later did I find out how common it is in different countries throughout the world.
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Old Mar 19th, 2023, 08:18 PM
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So sorry to read this! I have heard of this scam before, but hadn't read about it in CDMX, though of course this kind of thing is everywhere. Thanks for the reminder, and again, I'm so sorry to read this happened to you.
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Leely2 View Post
So sorry to read this! I have heard of this scam before, but hadn't read about it in CDMX, though of course this kind of thing is everywhere. Thanks for the reminder, and again, I'm so sorry to read this happened to you.
Thank you, Leely2! It was such a shock to us and I had thought I was aware of most scams. I asked the woman at the hotel to contact the police just to let them know what happened (I wasnít expecting that the police could do anything) and she told me that there was a report the day before as well.

All I can say is, lesson learned.
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 10:44 AM
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"took a walk around Avenida Amsterdam..."

Sorry this happened. Our first dinner on our near-future Mexico City trip will be on Avenida Amsterdam. Thanks for the warning. I guess I won't wear my new shirt that night.
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by progol View Post
Thank you, Leely2! It was such a shock to us and I had thought I was aware of most scams. I asked the woman at the hotel to contact the police just to let them know what happened (I wasnít expecting that the police could do anything) and she told me that there was a report the day before as well.

All I can say is, lesson learned.
I had heard vaguely of this particular scam happening in Spain. But I Googled it after reading your report, and evidently it happened to some British tourists last summer in Golden Gate Park, very near where I live, on my morning jogging route!
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by maitaitom View Post
"took a walk around Avenida Amsterdam..."

Sorry this happened. Our first dinner on our near-future Mexico City trip will be on Avenida Amsterdam. Thanks for the warning. I guess I won't wear my new shirt that night.
It happened just a few steps beyond the area where the Red Tree House is located! Truly, Avenida Amsterdam is really nice, too, with restaurants and interesting architecture all around. But good idea not to wear your best clothes .😉
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Leely2 View Post
I had heard vaguely of this particular scam happening in Spain. But I Googled it after reading your report, and evidently it happened to some British tourists last summer in Golden Gate Park, very near where I live, on my morning jogging route!
Itís odd, I hadnít read about it before, either, but there are reports in various places around the world. Iím still trying to work out how the crap was actually set up to feel like it fell on us from above. It wasnít thrown at us, but dropped - or felt like it, anyway. Thatís whatís so puzzling.
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 06:16 PM
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I was definitely not the only one experiencing this scam in Mexico City recently! I just found this piece, written by a journalist professor. It occurred 4 days before “our” incident and it sounds very much like it might be the lovely area of Condesa:
https://www.statecollege.com/article...-off-my-shirt/
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 09:44 AM
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"It happened just a few steps beyond the area where the Red Tree House is located!"

That's where we are staying the first two nights, I will pack my Poop-Be-Gone.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by maitaitom View Post
"It happened just a few steps beyond the area where the Red Tree House is located!"

That's where we are staying the first two nights, I will pack my Poop-Be-Gone.
I mentioned the b&b since I noticed you were going there (and it is a very vibrant area - I liked it a lot). Yup, sounds like you have the right idea for your clothes, too.
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