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Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

North Canton, Ohio
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Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

We have been going to the Grand Mayan south of Cancun for 10 years and love it. It's a remarkable resort.

However, on our last trip we were the victims of the classic Mexican cop scam. While driving our rental car home from Playa Del Carmen at 9:00, we were stopped by one of the local police. He very helpfully explained how the speed limit in the left lane is 100kmh, but the right lane is only 70 kmh (which is total horse sh*t). He said there would be no ticket, but he would take my drivers license to the police station. I would have to go there to get it back, and pay a $50 fine.

Of course, we could avoid the trip and the hassle and just pay him the fine. I am well aware of how this scam works, having read other peoples' posts about it. You definitely don't want to argue with a cop in another country, and we didn't want to hassle with going back to Playa Del Carmen, so we paid up and were sent on our way with a smile and a handshake.

We really like having a car because we like to travel around the area. There's a lot to do. However, there are cabs everywhere, many shuttle services available and ... for the adventurous ... the collectivos or public buses that are everywhere.

For our trip next year, we are considering skipping the rental car and using public transportation.

Florida
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1. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

why bother visiting a country where you are using derogatory remarks about their people "classic Mexican cop scam" it appears you do not like Mexican people. You should stay in Ohio where I am sure the everything is pure and life is great

Edited: 06 October 2011, 12:30
Mechanicsville...
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2. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

TravelTim

Thank you for your post.

Since you state that you have been traveling to Mexico for the past 10 years it sounds to me like you love Mexico, the people, and the culture as much as the rest of us here.

I too have been stopped by the police in a rented car and I too paid. I did not pay the full amount asked- as in most cases in Mexico it can be bargained down!! LOL . I was aware of and knew how to handle the situation because others posted here on TA about their experiances. That is what this board is about, unless I am mistaken.

My statements of "classic American credit-card scam" or "classic American check cashing scam" does not mean I do not LOVE the USA!! Only that there are things out of my control that I do not like.

vancouver, BC
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3. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

i sympathize with you ...i guess under the same circumstance, i would have done the same--pay the fine to avoid hassle and complications even though knowing that this is a total scam. it's experiences like this that can tarnish our otherwise wonderful holidays.

like you mentioned, instead of renting a car, perhaps you can take a combination of collectivos, the ADOs, buses, and cabs? i know that is what we do but if you have young children or several of you in the party, this option may be too much then you can hire a driver for the day. i believe the costs between renting a car for the day and hiring a driver for the day may be comparable. this way, it's hassle free and you can actually enjoy yourselves on the trip without having to worry .

again, so sorry this happened to you.

San Antonio, Texas
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4. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

Traveltime, yes it's so classic it even has a name: La Mordida, and you handled it incorrectly. Next time don't rent a car until you understand how to handle situations you may encounter far from Ohio, with due respect.

Posted **again**:Driving in Mexico 101

#1 Research la mordida, know what it is, and how not to become a victim. There are entire web sites devoted to this one topic alone. Locate and print a copy of Articulo 152, and have it with you in the car.

#1b. Secure full insurance through rental agency. Take photos of the vehicle, and point out any dings/damage to the rental agent before you sign off for the vehicle.

#2 Buckle your seat belt

#3 Obey ALL traffic laws.

#4 Do not keep up with traffic, since the vast majority are speeding. *Here's where most people fail*

#5 Do not think you can blend in with local traffic, your rental car is a marked target and is easily spotted by policia.

#6 Move all of your money to a money belt. Keep little/none in your wallet. This goes for your passengers also.

#7 Have a spotter with good eyesight in the front passenger seat helping you spot the ever changing speed limit signs. Obey all of them. Watching for topes is secondary to spotting speed limits.

#8 Stay in the right lane at all times. You will be passed on your left like you're standing still. Pay no attention to them - they're locals. They're also gringos that haven't a clue, and you may see a few later up the road pulled over by the policia.

#9 If you followed # 1-8 above, it is highly unlikely that you will be pulled over, since tourists trying to blend in with traffic and thus speeding are so prevalent, they are easy pickins for the policia. I firmly believe police DO NOT pull over someone that is obeying all traffic laws.

#10 In the unlikely event that you are pulled over because you didn't follow these steps, or missed a speed limit change, DO NOT PAY A BRIBE TO THE OFFICER. Doing so is illegal, and you are then just as guilty paying a bribe as the officer is asking for one. You are also perpetuating the problem of la mordida. Stand your ground, politely, and ask for the ticket. Or, ask the officer to take you to the police station to pay it. Hand the officer your Articulo 152. At that point, the officer will undoubtedly let you go, and go for an easier target. Likewise, if you WERE speeding, ask for the ticket, and pay it at the police station.

#11 Do not give the officer your license until you have written down his name and badge number. You can communicate these points easily enough even if you don't speak Spanish.

#12 When filling up, get out of the vehicle, check to see the pump has been zeroed out, then tell the attendant how much fuel you want. Watch the pump for the correct amount. Pay attention.

These tips are from driving the area for over 19 years, and collected from my own research and experience. I have never been pulled over, and firmly believe that those that claim they were pulled over "for no reason" are simply mistaken, missed the speed limit change, or unwilling to admit they made a mistake. Good luck, and do a little homework. It's nice to have the freedom of your own wheels.

Edited: 06 October 2011, 13:09
Minnesota
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for Cancun
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5. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

Also, when renting a car the rental agency will give you a card about tourist rights to give the cop if you are stopped. It is in English and Spanish and lets them know that you will not be paying a bribe in so many words. Last time we had to ask for if but they did have it and handed it over.

Cheryl

San Antonio, Texas
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6. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

That's Articulo 152.

Minnesota
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for Cancun
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7. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

Thanks, bellasogno. I knew it had a title but couldn't remember it.

Cheryl

Mexico
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8. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

Knowing how to handle it = not paying and contributing to the corruption.

Easy money for the cops and THIS is why they continue to do it.

Cozumel, Mexico
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for Cozumel, Merida
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9. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

Agree, as long as its paid, it will continue. Easy money.

San Antonio, Texas
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10. Re: Cop Scam Along the Mayan Riviera

Is it just me, or would you expect someone that's visited the area for 10 years to already know this? I can understand the newbie that's not done their homework, but a 10 time visitor??