Travelers to Cancun are being urged not to fall for a new tour scam that poses as an affiliate of the Federal Secretary for Tourism (SEDETUR).
Under no circumstances does the SEDETUR offer tour packages, discounts, nor travel insurance linked to any banking institution.
This warning comes as the summer season in Cancun begins to get into full swing, prompting authorities to educate travelers on scams and frauds that are common in the destination.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only scam that travelers need to be wary of in Cancun, while the destination isn’t a hotbed of scams compared to other places around the world, it does have its fair share.
The following are some of the most common scams travelers may encounter while in Cancun:
The Robbed Tourist
An all too common scam in Cancun is the “robbed tourist” gambit. This is mostly carried out by Americans or Europeans in the destination, using their nationality as a cover to gain travelers’ confidence.
Stories of lost passports and being robbed of all their cash and cards are common. Any traveler who genuinely loses their passport/money would be receiving help from their nation’s embassy rather than begging for money from fellow travelers.
ATMs are dicey in Cancun; the on-street ones are often targeted by criminals and fitted with card readers. They are also a target for petty criminals waiting to relieve unsuspecting travelers of recently withdrawn cash.
Always use the ATM machines contained within a bank. And where possible, avoid withdrawing cash when it gets dark.
Additionally, there are 2 kinds of ATMs in Cancun. Those provided by legitimate banks and private ATMs owned by individuals/small businesses.
ATMs that are not bank operated often charge extremely high withdrawal fees and give abysmal exchange rates from USD to Mexican pesos.
For the most part, taxis in Cancun are perfectly safe. The Taxi v Uber conflict still flares up in places, but in terms of the actual taxi service, it’s trustable.
Although the issue travelers may face is drivers attempting to charge far higher fares than normal. Always discuss the price before getting in a taxi, and confirm the price is for Mexican pesos or USD.
It has been reported that one taxi driver quoted ‘50’ as a price to a traveler, only to then demand $50 USD when arriving at the destination rather than 50 pesos ($2.90).
Also, don’t be shy about haggling, especially if there is more than one taxi waiting; it is then possible to bounce them off each other to receive a better price.
This scam is very common in Cancun. It begins with 2 girls/guys who will attempt to befriend travelers while in a bar drinking. After a couple of drinks, they will suggest moving on to another bar which they say is a good time.
Once at this new bar, travelers will be served a host of drinks. The scammers will continue drinking with the travelers to keep the charade going.
The issues start when the bill arrives. Travelers will be shocked to find the drinks have hugely inflated prices, sometimes up to 5-10 times the normal cost.
At this point, travelers will realize their new friends are actually affiliates of the bar and are being paid to bring people in and encourage heavy spending.
There is no comeback at this point. If travelers don’t have enough money or refuse to pay, then the doormen will escort travelers to the nearest ATM.
Furthermore, the police are not useful in this situation. The bar will simply produce a menu that clearly states the prices; it isn’t illegal, after all, for people to suggest a bar.
There are plenty of people in Cancun that genuinely will join travelers in a bar for non-scam-related reasons. If travelers are encouraged to move to another bar they should pick an alternative to the one suggested to feel out if the new friendship is genuine.
All the scams and fraud schemes that travelers may come into contact with are easily avoided by staying vigilant and a little cynical.
The vast majority of visitors to Cancun will have a trouble-free vacation, but it always pays to be educated on any possible scams that may rear their heads.
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