Tourists in Los Cabos and surrounding towns are being warned about a new scam circulating in the area that is targeting drivers of rental cars.
Drivers in high-traffic shopping areas are being targeted by scammers that park their cars too close to the victim’s car on purpose. When the driver “hits” the other car trying to get out, the scammer requests cash to avoid having to call the police.
Crash and Cash
Tourists in Todos Santos are reporting a number of instances of suspicious traffic accidents where the tourists are pushed for a cash payment to resolve the issue after the incident.
For a few weeks, drivers in Todos Santos have been accused of stopping and parking close to rental cars in order to create the perception of an accident to their vehicle and then demand cash for repairs.
The targets in Todos Santos are congested high-traffic areas frequented by tourists, such as the Banorte bank branch and the downtown location of the Coppel department store.
How the Scam Works
The scammers strategically park their car in the morning very close to the rental car to “box in the driver” and make it very difficult to get out.
When maneuvering to get out, the tourist may “tap” the other car or even only appear to strike an area that already has existing damage. The scammer comes out of the bank or store, creates a scene, and threatens to call the police.
They then offer to “make it all go away” with the payment of some cash. The tourist gives in, not wanting to get involved with the police in Mexico, and gives the scammer the cash.
In other instances, they allow the tourist to leave and then make a claim for the accident directly to the rental car agency hired by the tourist.
The average amount requested by the scammer to resolve the accident is about 500 pesos, or about $27. For most tourists, it is not a huge amount and easily paid to eliminate dealing with the perceived accident claim.
Drivers File Complaints
Drivers in Todos Santos are filing complaints and police reports with local authorities in Todos Santos to investigate the scam. In the complaints filed, both tourists and locals have fallen victim to this scam.
In some instances, drivers of both the front and rear parked vehicles have demanded money from the same victim.
Drivers are asking that local authorities in not only Todos Santos but also Los Cabos and La Paz warn drivers about the scam. They have also asked local police officers to increase patrols of the area and monitor for this type of scam activity.
What Drivers Can Do
If drivers are caught in a situation where it appears they are unable to move their car, they should try to reach the local police before attempting to maneuver out of the parking space.
The local police should either try to help find the drivers of the other cars to have them move or carefully watch as the driver moves out of the space.
If this is not possible, drivers should have someone record the maneuvering of the car with a smartphone for play back or even take pictures before the car is moved. This way, there is photo evidence of the action to document the lack of an accident.
Drivers should then report the incident to local police officials to document and track the activity of this scam in the area.
Tourists can also be sure to have optional insurance available for the vehicle to avoid having to deal with the investigation and payment of a claim for the rental car.
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