Los Cabos tourists are being targeted by scammers using a roadside gambling game that is designed so participants can never win. Reports so far show this scam to be present in San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, with the scammers setting up in front of department stores, parking lots, and even among legitimate vendors during festivities such as the Christmas nautical parade. While this scam has been reported elsewhere in Mexico, its appearance in Los Cabos is a worrying development for tourists.
The Scam And How It Works
On the surface, this scam can appear to be a harmless game of chance, but it’s rigged so that players can never win. The game is played on a board with 120 holes, each numbered 1 to 6. The aim of the game is to reach 100 points with 8 marbles, an impossible target. Participants are drawn in by the offer of 2 free throws, after which they pay 50 pesos ($2.70) per throw. As well as friendly and entertaining showmanship, the scammers move fast when counting the score and pushing for participants to take their next throw, all in the hope they don’t take the time to consider the odds.
Unfortunately, the fraud doesn’t end there. The board also has an area designated 28. Landing in this area doubles the prize, and it also doubles the cost per marble for the next shot to 100 pesos ($5.40). Meaning this supposedly innocent game of chance can quickly snowball and see innocent tourists losing larger and larger amounts, with absolutely zero chance of winning.
The Guessing Game Scam
Unfortunately, there are other scams for tourists to be aware of when visiting Los Cabos. One that visitors may come across is the ‘Guessing Game Scam’. This is built around the classic game where a performer has three boxes and a ball. The ball is placed in one of the three boxes and then shuffled, with the participants guessing which box holds the ball to win.
This game has a twist in Los Cabos. The first few participants are allowed to win, in turn creating a buzz and attracting a small crowd. Once the crowd is close and engaged, an associate of the vendor will move into position and pickpocket the participants while they are focused on the game.
The Bar Friends Scam
For those visiting San Jose Del Cabo and planning to enjoy the nightlife, beware of the “Bar Friends” scam. This scam usually involves 2 females approaching to make friendly small talk. They’ll often have a drink with their mark, make them believe that they are also out to enjoy the nightlife, and then invite them to another bar with which they are partners.
After their guest/guests have drunk a number of shots, the bill will be brought to them, and the person will quickly realize the prices of the shots are inflated anywhere from 5-10 times the normal cost. To make matters worse, if the person doesn’t have enough cash or refuses to pay, the bar security will escort them to the nearest ATM and demand it is withdrawn. The Police are no help with this as there has been a legitimate exchange of goods and services, and there are no pricing restrictions to prevent the bar from inflating their price per customer. Leaving the victim with few options but to pay.
This scam is difficult to spot because both tourists and locals in San Jose Del Cabo are usually friendly, and it isn’t out of the ordinary to have strangers approach and make friendly small talk. If you are asked to move onto another bar by new people you’ve met, either suggest a bar you know and trust personally, or upon arrival at their bar of choice, immediately ask for a bar menu and confirm the price of the drinks.
Is Los Cabos A Haven For Scammers?
Los Cabos is one of the safest destinations in Mexico and regularly ranks as safer than many U.S. cities. While there are scams to be aware of, the vast majority of visitors will not come into contact with them. Tourism is the lifeblood of the area, and the locals and government both put in a serious effort to ensure visitors have a safe and enjoyable trip.
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