There is a common scam in the Riviera Maya area that seems to be growing in popularity, so I decided to do a post to warn others about it.
I personally know two people who have fallen victim to this one in the last month or so. The most recent one was earlier today at the Home Depot in Playa del Carmen.
Since I am a former law enforcement officer, I’m going to use terms like “victim” and “suspect” to identify the players in this one. If you’re unfamiliar with those terms, feel free to look them up or just watch a few police shows on TV.
These incidents typically occur at larger stores like Walmart and Home Depot. Here’s how they typically go…
While the victim is shopping, they are approached by the suspect who tells them that they have something on the back of their shirt. The suspect is usually carrying a napkin (presumably with the foreign substance already on it) and begins wiping the back of the victim’s shirt.
The suspect then offers to help the victim get cleaned up and directs the victim toward the bathroom. Once inside, the suspect suggests that the victim remove their shirt to make the clean up easier.
While the victim is pulling their shirt up, the suspect removes the victim’s wallet, quickly removes the credit cards, and then puts it back in the victim’s pocket.
In each case, the victim didn’t become aware of the theft until later when they wanted to pay for something and discovered the cards missing.
Let’s Wrap This Up
As a cynical former cop, I immediately become suspicious of unsolicited help from strangers. That suspicion level grows exponentially if the person is trying to get me to accompany them to more isolated location, like a bathroom or a parking lot.
If you find yourself in a similar situation as the one described above, the best course of action would be to distance yourself from the “helpful stranger” and ask a store employee for assistance. If the person that approached you does have nefarious intentions, he or she will probably flee the scene at that point.