Scam City: Cabo San Lucas Mexico


Mexico is well known to be the land of scams for gringos (visitors). I’ve heard horror stories of people filling up gas in Mexico and being overcharged. When driving in Mexico, you might be pulled over by a police officer for a minor infraction and be required to pay an on the spot fine or go to Mexican jail. Thankfully, none of this has happened to me.

Introduction to Cabo 
The Westin Los Cabos Resort & Spa Hotel Review
Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort Hotel Review
The Sights and Sounds of Cabo San Lucas Mexico
The Sights and Sounds of Nightlife in Cabo San Lucas Mexico
Is Cabo San Lucas Mexico Safe for Tourists?
Scam City: Cabo San Lucas Mexico
The Various Eats in Cabo San Lucas Mexico
Los Cabos International Airport VIP Lounge

Throughout my three days in Cabo, I did not see a single police officer in the highway or even in the streets of Cabo San Lucas. I found it kind of odd, but Cabo was definitely created and catered exclusively for the tourist.

When I landed in SJD Los Cabos International Airport, I went to the Payless rental car center and found out that it was closed.


I was very disappointed as my flight was delayed by an hour. I’m not sure what time it closed, but it seemed like Europcar and Alamo shared the counter space as well. Well, there goes my $9 rental car. If you rent a car, please make sure to call ahead and see what time the counter closes. I was definitely scammed on my $9 nonrefundable car rental.

Since I didn’t get a rental car, I went outside to scope out some taxis from the Taxi Cab Mafia.

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One guy came up to me and said a taxi would cost $70 USD one-way. It was a 20 minute ride to the hotel and I was definitely not going to pay $70 USD. I went back into the arrivals hall and found a shared shuttle van that was $14 per person.

One of the things I observed while shopping in Cabo is that the preferred currency is actually US Dollars. There are signs that explicitly say that if you pay with US Dollars, you will get US Dollars back in change. I was wary of the sign that said Amigo: We take your Mexican Pesos.


If you do pay in Mexican pesos, please be sure to count your change as there are scammers that will give you the incorrect change to gringos.

You should be wary when shopping at the Mexican Pharmacy. I’ve heard some of the pills are placebos and some might be worse than generics. You should also be cautious about purchasing Viagra or Cialis as those are the major counterfeit drugs in Mexico.


If you don’t have a rental car and are staying in the hotel corridor zone, be prepared to be scammed by a taxi. Yes, it will cost you $50 one-way to get back to the airport and $30 one-way to get downtown. That adds up and you will regret not renting a car. I know I regretted it.


There’s another well-known scam when dining in a restaurant. When having a lovely dinner date with your girlfriend, a mariachi band might start playing and will demand tips from everyone in your table. You can avoid this by saying “no gracias” when they come to your table. Watch as the mariachi band go to other tables and you can still hear the music for free.

I did get taken by the fortune telling bird scam. Basically a guy comes up to you and says “Would you like your fortune be read by a bird?” I normally say no, but I wanted to watch as it happened. I can’t embed Instagram videos, but here is the link to the video:


Basically, the bird comes out of the cage and picks up one of the papers which has your fortune. This is a total scam and the bird keeper will want a tip from you.


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14 Comments on "Scam City: Cabo San Lucas Mexico"

  1. Nurse Traveler | August 26, 2013 at 11:28 am | Reply

    Jamison, I always appreciate your scam alerts. It is really helpful to know what to look for. Please keep posting!

  2. Glad you shared.

    Most of these are funny because scams will always occur no matter what country you visit.Gringo use to mean white man,maybe that has changed.Every dollar is worth 12.5 pesos.As for those taxis,any one can fall to those prices when you need a ride and you’re at their mercy.

  3. Robert merenyi | May 16, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Reply

    Nothing you said was a scam. Pure speculation and no fact. how was the mariachi band a scam? Or a bird that tells your fortune anything but entertainment? Or listed taxi fares a scam. Cabo is a 40 minute drive from the airport. You’re a douche! And a paranoid travel that should probably stay at home.

  4. Been coming to Cabo twenty years. Always call the resort take a shuttle for $20. Cabs to downtown Cabo are regulated and the resort tells you in advance what the fee is …$7.00 to downtown Cabo from Villa Del Arco. Yes, going into San Jose from the corridor is $35, but any experienced traveller finds these things out in advance and decides which is more economical car or taxi. If you thought you were getting a car for $9 a day in Cabo, not to smart.

  5. I was victimized in Cabo and want everyone to know the scam and how to prevent it. They all seem silly until you are presented with it. They prey on people who are there to have a great time and NOT be thinking business! Please share my website for those who have been scammed.

  6. Avoid renting from Payless in Cabo. They are the biggest scammers in Cabo San Lucas. I was quoted $50 online but they tried to get me to pay $450 at the counter. The only problem is that they shuttle you offsite, so you have no place to go. WORST CAR RENTAL COMPANY EVER. Such a scam and I’m ashamed I did not research it before hand. Shame on me. I just hope everyone knows — AVOID PAYLESS AT ALL COSTS!!!!!!!

    • Sorry to hear about your rental experience in Cabo. Yes it’s true the cars are quoted $7-$10 per day in Cabo but that’s without CDW (Collision Damage Waver), Liability Insurance, Mandatory Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI), Airport taxes, misc taxes, extra rental fees such as Underage fee and GPS/toll which can all add up to $450 for a week’s worth of rental at an internet quote of $7-$10 per day.

  7. I’ve visited your sites a few times noticing you help people who have been scammed. I was wondering if you could help me and others that have been scammed. AMEX by taking a blind eye and holding card holders to illegal contracts even when cancellation notices have been provided is aiding and abetting criminals by allowing known illegal charges to go through.

    I started two petitions with two of my AMEX cards (Costco and Hilton). Would you pass these along to your readers so we can get the message to AMEX?

    Our goal is to reach well over 100 signatures each and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petitions here:

    If you need to speak with me my name is Paul and my number is 760-482-7313.

    Ironically I was actually told to hit the social media by one of the Amex supervisors as he was fully aware of the situation and was frustrated that he couldn’t help. I even had the transaction taped showing the fraud but AMEX still is allowing the illegal transactions to go through. I have a very detailed summary, if you are interested I can forward the information.

    Thank you for your help.

  8. I’m going to cabo for 4 days and one day in san jose. with hearing about some car rentals scaming customers, which car rental should i use? or should i use the free service shuttle to the hotel to cabo, then use a taxi to san jose?

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