Scam City: Guatemala City Edition

While I was in Guatemala City for three days, I stayed in the safest zone which is Zona 10 (Zona Viva, or Entertainment Zone). Even though the area was safe, there were still scams since most of the tourists stay in Zona 10 hotels. Here are some of the scams I encountered while I was in Guatemala City.

Introduction to Guatemala City
Delta Air Lines LAX-GUA 757-200 Business Class
Westin Camino Real Guatemala City Hotel Review Part 1
Westin Camino Real Guatemala City Hotel Review Part 2
Radisson Guatemala City Hotel Review Part 1
Radisson Guatemala City Hotel Review Part 2
The Sights and Sounds of Centro Historico (Zona 1) in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of Parque Central (Zona 1) in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of the Mercado Central in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of Plaza Barrios in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of in Zona Viva (Zona 10) Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of Plaza El Amate in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of La Linea in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of El Trebol in Guatemala City
Is Guatemala City Safe for Tourists?
Scam City: Guatemala City Edition
The Various Eats in Guatemala City
La Aurora International Airport Los Anejos Lounge
Delta Air Lines GUA-LAX 757-200 Business Class

The Escort Scam

You’ll see a few shady guys standing around in the four corners of the Intercontinental Real and Westin Camino Real hotels in Zona 10. They’re considered pimps and will sell you escort services. One of the guys approached me with an Elite International Night Club flyer that says; open bar $30 (all you can drink).


He told me that he can grab a taxi for me and send me to the nightclub. In my mind, I was like, “I’m not going to get into a cab, especially when a stranger requests one for me.”  Then he told me that there were street prostitutes nearby if I wanted to get one. I made three videos regarding the incident on two separate occasions. Bottom line: Do not take him up on his offer. You could get kidnapped in a cab.

The Three Card Monte Scam

The 3 Card Monte is basically a scam that is known around the world in most major cities. I found the scam being played out in the Centro Historico Zona 1 area of Guatemala City. It involves a guy with three cards who will entice a passerby to bet money on the game. The name of the game is to find the “money card” and they make it so simple, but it’s actually an illusion and a huge scam. The scammer and his informants “play” the game to make it seem like the customer is winning, but they’re also in on the scam. Once they entice you to play, you will lose 100% of the time. Don’t fall for it.


The Casino Scam

There are a lot of casinos in Guatemala City, especially in the Zona 10 district. When I was cashing out my ticket on the slot machine, I noticed they short changed me every time by a few dollars. Also, they have a “buy in” to play blackjack. I don’t know anywhere else in the world where you have to “buy in” a certain amount just to play a hand of blackjack. Bottom line: Avoid casinos in Guatemala City at all costs.


The Taxi Scam

Sure, there are taxi drivers all over the world that want to scam customers. If you don’t speak Spanish, expect to get scammed. You should take authorized taxis in Guatemala City and not street cabs. Take authorized taxis from the booths in the arrivals hall of La Aurora International Airport (GUA). I would avoid street cabs at all costs if you don’t speak Spanish and feel uncomfortable. Authorized taxi stands are all over Guatemala City such as parks, major attractions, malls, and hotels. The best way to know if you’re in an authorized taxi is if they have radios inside the car (paging dispatch and other taxis) and they’re using the taximeter.


The Counterfeit Merchandise Scam

Counterfeit merchandise is very common on the streets of Guatemala City. Beware of vendors passing off merchandise as the real deal, especially when buying DVDs. As you can see in the picture below, they’re wheeling in boxes of DVD-R-8X (DVD re-writeable) copies of music, movies, and games. Buyer beware.



About the Author

Points Summary
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3 Comments on "Scam City: Guatemala City Edition"

  1. Anyone of these guys get upset at the photos/videos you took? I appreciate you outlining these scams, but don’t want you putting yourself in trouble for our sake.

  2. You should do a look at charity scams in Guatemala. DGuatemala is a scam, for example. This is a family known for running scams in the past and when they were found out, they set up a “charity” that is crazy even if it were real. $100 for a few paltry items that cost $30 max? Right.

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