TAPO bus terminal scam: a warning to others
Replies: 34 - Last Post: Oct 18, 2013 11:16 PM Last Post By: goodyearbear
Oct 6, 2013 8:28 AM
TAPO bus terminal scam: a warning to othersMy girlfriend and I were the victims of a scam last week at TAPO bus terminal in Mexico City and I'm posting this as a warning to others.
Around 7.30pm we were approached by a respectable-looking white guy in his early 50s who said his name was Steven Wachler and that he was a corporate lawyer from Chicago. 'Steve' had been in Mexico City for a few days on business but had had his jacket stolen by a taxi driver, including his passport, money etc, and needed our help. I'll save you the gory details but suffice to say he was very convincing and was all the more believable for his age and appearance. I mean, what would a middle-aged, seemingly middle-class white guy be doing robbing a couple of travellers in Mexico City?!
Anyway, if you are approached by this guy, or anyone with a similar tale, be very careful...or better still, just say sorry and walk away. He was tall with thinning hair, dressed in a shirt and trousers/pants, and had a slightly awkward way of walking. Clearly we were overly trusting of 'Steve', but it's a sad fact that we've been in Mexico and Central America since January and the only times we've had any problems have been with pinche gringos.
Oct 6, 2013 9:29 AM
1This con is performed every day in every city in North America in varying degrees, so should be nothing new to anyone.
BTW Mexico is part of North America.
Oct 6, 2013 10:06 AM
2it's a sad fact that we've been in Mexico and Central America since January
So you're saying you've been on planet earth for at least nearly a year and you still fell for this?
What did the guy do, anyway? Max out your debit card after you gave it to him with the pin number and asked him to "go easy?"
Oct 6, 2013 10:23 AM
3Of course these types of scams are performed all the time but when you're not expecting it to happen it's still possible to be sucked in by someone, especially if they do not fit an expected sterotype.
I didn't post to be told I was naive - that much is already clear to me - so it's a shame that you see the need to post just to say that.
(Hence "Mexico and Central America")
Oct 6, 2013 10:43 AM
4I was approached twice this summer in Oaxaca (heh, enroutesiglo, you must have been aproached too), by a twenty-something gringo with a sad face and an even sadder story. I told him to go to the embassy and police, and asked why he was so fat if he didn't have any money (sorry, I know that's not politcally correct, but no need to mince words when you're dealing with criminals). Anyway, after being berated by me and my amigo (who had also been approached by him before), he left. I saw him approach many other gringos in Oaxaca centro the following days.
Oct 6, 2013 11:11 AM
5Steve is trying to make a living the best way he knows how. Next time buy him a refresco.
Mexico may be part of North America, but they're not Northamericans.
Oct 6, 2013 12:10 PM
Oct 6, 2013 2:07 PM
7Pretty sure I ran into the guy, #4... hanging out in front of the cathedral for t a week or so, kinda chubby, running behind saying "Excuse me, do you speak English?" in a high-pitched whine. Needless to say, I didn't.
Come on though OP, you have to expect a little ribbing with a story like that. The point is, Latin America and the world in general is full of "middle aged white guys" doing this kinda thing. This was a great chance to learn that skin color and age are not good indicators for avoiding getting ripped off. You still haven't said what you gave the man... a few pesos? Your passports and all your clothes? I think it's "gory details" time.
Oct 6, 2013 3:03 PM
8What's the difference between getting approached by someone asking for help in the US or Mexico?
In Mexico, a Mexican seeing someone in need on the street is likely to give them 5 or 10 pesos and say good luck, and get a "bless you" in return,
In the US, people will sometimes give someone in need on the street a dollar, and maybe get a "thanks" in return. A US tourist in Mexico probably gives nothing to an indigeno in need on the street but seeing or hearing what looks like an American in need probably forks over $20US or more, and then screams "SCAM".
Oct 6, 2013 3:52 PM
9Siujet, Thanks so much for informing us. Sorry we have some posters who like to insult others, maybe not meaning to do it? Your information could be very useful to innocent/naive tourists as what to be careful of. No, we don't need to know the details of how much you got scammed out of, only how it was done. Adios, Edmund
Oct 6, 2013 5:55 PM
10About a month ago something similar happened to me in Cancun near the ADO bus terminal. White, American guy in his fifties with a story (taxi driver drove off with his stuff), then asked for money (he asked twenty dollars). I didn't give anything and just walked away, his story and way of talking was just to akward... Some days later, similar thing. This time an afro american in his fifties, neatly dressed. Something with his passport he lost etc. I walked away before he could ask for money, and saw him again at the terminal hanging around some days later.
Anyway, thanks for sharing, it's a good reminder to be carefull!
Oct 6, 2013 8:15 PM
11we have some posters who like to insult others,
Where are these "posters?" In Acapulco? There certainly isn't anyone insulting anyone on this thread... at least not in English.
OP opened their own can of worms by claiming that they wouldn't suspect a "white guy" of being a scammer, but I'm not even going to touch that one.
Oct 6, 2013 8:30 PM
12OP, thanks for posting!
Same scam was reported here about a year ago (the poster surprised me quite a bit too as he was looking for others scammed by this Steve guy to try to get back at him).
OP, you are not guilty of anything except for 1)not being too jaded and trying to help a person in dire straits, which is quite admirable - for every case like yours there are thousands of cases when people don't care to help others who really need help and 2)trying to warn others of this scam on this board.
You are not naive - Steve is professional, he knows how to work people. It always seems clear what he was doing when you look back at that -- but it may not be so clear when this is actually happening in real time.
I sure thing would love much more if people on this board went by the rule of never blaming a victim -- but of course it is much easier to just say it's all OP's fault for being too naive and to demonstrate your intellectual superiority by pointing out, for the darn 100s time that you know Mexico is not in Central America: of course, OP had it right from the start but, why, #1 just really likes to point out he can read google maps.
Hope he did not totally destroy your cash flow, OP. Good Luck!
Oct 6, 2013 8:52 PM
13#12, it's not unreasonable to point out that just because someone is white doesn't mean they're not out to rob you (in fact, it's a pretty important detail). If you're going to come and say that you fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book, a little gentle ribbing isn't out of line either... and may even be beneficial for avoiding it the next time. Anyway, OP never said what actually happened... did they just give him money or did he steal something from them? Maybe they just ended genuinely helping out an old white geezer in need.
It's also fair to note that this isn't a Mexican or Central American scam, it's something that happens in pretty much every country on earth, every day... but it's still a valuable post, maybe someone reading this will be prevented from getting Steved in the future.
Oct 6, 2013 9:50 PM
14I think the main point here really is just that we tourists go to foreign countries (wherever they are) with all this built up caution about being robbed or scammed by the people who live there, who are by definition "foreign" to us (that's just part of the travel game: you don't see me wearing moneybelts in my home city, even though the crime rate is probably higher than in these places I visit:) Yet, this is the key, when someone shows up who seems like "one of us", it is easier for them to slip under our radar than if we met them back home. OP might never have fallen for it back in his home town, but his cautionary filter was different because he was traveling.
This reminds me of a funny thing that happened to me in Chile. I was down in Punta Arenas when I saw this American woman taking a picture of her husband at a fountain. Being the very nice guy that I am, I offered to take the picture of them together. She went off on me: "Hah! You're not getting anywhere NEAR my camera!" I have to say I was damn insulted and pissed. Like, how could she think II had flown 6000 miles, at a cost of $1000 just so I go around stealing people's cameras?! But really, it was funny. Her cautionary filter definitely included me, a fellow gringo with an american accent! Steve in Mexico City would never have gotten her!
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