The 21st Century Beginner's Guide to Sex and Escorts in Tijuana, Mexico - Crime and Scams

VIII. Crime and Scams

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Taxi Scams

The one day the bars may close is on an election day, any taxi driver that tells you the clubs have been closed because of some crime incident or other reason is lying to you, and follow up with an offer to take you where there are beautiful girls for an affordable price. Most likely he'll take you to a massage parlor where he receives a commission, if you're unlucky he could be setting you up to be robbed. If any taxi driver tries to scam you like this, get out of the cab and find another driver and ignore his apologies.

Although not really a scam, some taxi drivers may try to overcharge you if they believe you are a naive tourist. You can avoid this situation by always agreeing on prices beforehand.

Police Scams

Unfortunately, one of the biggest risks of visiting the hobbying zone in Tijuana involves the police. Assuming you don't break any laws, it is unlikely that you'll be hurt or jailed, but being in the wrong place at the wrong time could mean a long ride in the back of a police car or wagon, and/or payment of a bribe anywhere from $10-$200+. Many regulars will lay into people that pay bribes for offenses they didn't commit, suggesting that it reinforces the cycle of corruption. My personal opinion that it is up to you to determine the risk and consequences of paying or not paying a bribe. I personally think no less of people that opt out with bribes.

The police scam that's occurred to me a few times involving stopping me for alleged traffic violations. I have gone both ways on this, paying bribes and talking my way out of it, but have never gotten to the point that some will suggest where I ask to go to the police station when I cannot talk myself out of the situation.

A more serious scam involves drug planting. You could be stopped on the street or in a car. There have been reports of very bold police demanding a bribe outright with the threat of planting drugs on you otherwise. Some people have reported long rides in a police car or van and drives around remote locations to soften up their victim. Nothing like this has personally never happened to me, and I really have no personal advice on how to deal with it besides remaining calm and trying to talk the police into letting you go because you are innocent.

Street People

Avoid strangers on the street, most of them will want money or to sell you something, but they may also be a part of a police scam as described above where you are picked up for talking to a "dealer" or other people "carrying drugs".

Muggings seem to have gone way down, but you should still always be alert when walking the street. Walk confidently and with your head on a swivel so that people can tell you are paying attention. Guys will occasionally discuss techniques on fighting and getting out of choke holds, but the reality is that victims are often at least double teamed, and pass out within seconds of being attacked.

Pickpockets may be adults that bump into you, or a group of children that push flowers into your face. If you do not carry your wallet under your clothes, carry it in your front pocket, and be careful of letting anyone get close to you. You might think you're smarter than them, but many are desperate and get plenty of practice, so watch your wallet.

There are a few Americans with SOB stories that come and go, they are usually bullshit. "My brother was thrown in jail and I need money to get him out..." is one of them. There are others that I don't remember at the moment, but if the story sounds well rehearsed, it probably is.

Street hawkers will promise you beautiful girls for all night at lower prices. At best they'll send you to a massage parlor where you'll pay at least double for full service, at worst they'll set you up for a robbery, ignore them.

To re-emphasize, stay away from strangers when walking around outside.

ATM Samaritan

Do not let ANYONE near you when withdrawing money from an ATM. I've heard of a few people that have had their cards switched by a "friendly stranger" who tries to help them when their ATM card doesn't work. I am not sure how the switch is done, but the stories I've read lead me to believe that they are very professional jobs. Don't let anyone touch your card, and verify your name on the card before returning it to your wallet. If you followed my budget tips from earlier, you shouldn't be needing to visit the ATM, though. There also are none in the hobbying zone, so if you need one you'll need to leave and return later. The closest one is several blocks away.

Club Scams

Waiter scams seem to be much less common than they used to be, but you should still be aware of them, especially if you decide to visit any of the Revolucion bars. The worst of these is the bill swap, where you hand over a $10 or $20 that instantly transforms into a $1 bill. It's unlikely it'll be attempted if you are paying attention, but if you want to take an additional precaution, you can state the denomination while you hand over the bill, but this really is just a way of emphasizing that you are paying attention.

Try not to get too drunk as it may be tempting for a waiter to "forget" your change. This is very unlikely at AB and CC as it can cost the waiters their relatively "excellent" jobs, but better to be on the safe side anyone and especially if you decide to try out other bars.

Although not really a scam, some waiters may try to extract a larger tip from you by hiding your change under the bills, hoping that you'll leave the last bill as a tip and not notice the change beneath. You can know exactly what you are tipping by picking up all your bills and leaving an optional tip afterwards. I always tip $1, but you should know that locals typically tip less and some none at all.

I haven't heard of this recently, but at least one of the bars was home to the "Dreaded Cheese Plate", a small appetizer plate with cheese and olives. At one time, this would often be brought to your table without having ordered it, and unsuspecting customers would later be billed for what they thought was complimentary. They don't serve appetizers in any of the bars, so don't let anyone bring you anything unless you expect to pay for it.

Sex Worker Scams

Scams pulled by the girls are of a different type. It is very unlikely that a girl will steal directly from you as she could be held accountable by the bar or by the hotel, it is not worth risking. Rather, sex worker scams more generally involve the heart and regular visitors to Tijuana. The life of a sex worker (some may argue the life of a woman) is based around separating you from your money. They do it every working day, and to do it effectively, they need to create an illusion that you are special and you are better than everyone else they deal with. Open hearts often equal open wallets, and stories abound of girls draining guys because her work has been slow, her family is ill, she wants to open a business, she wants to get out of sex work, etc... Although there are exceptions, the odds are against you with probably at least 90% ending in disaster. I'll admit this percentage is speculation, but I prefer to call it an estimated guess. Keep in mind that participants on a site such as ClubHombre are generally better prepared and more aware of the challenges and intricacies of relationships with sex workers, so you're likely to find more "successful" relationships, but this segment is only a small fragment of the population that visits sex workers. Also, you only rarely get updates on the long term results of these relationships. Scams of the heart, by the way, are a regular aspect of every country in the world.

Armed Robbery

In my five years, I've only known of this happening to one person...me. I was held up in the early morning at gunpoint by a guy let in by a girl I invited to spend the night with me in my hotel room at Leyva. I had known her for over a year, and at the time found her working out of an unpopular dive bar. The specifics are posted elsewhere on the ClubHombre site, but the moral of the experience is to never get overconfident and careless in a foreign country like Mexico.

Should You Be Afraid?

No. Although I've described and know of a number of crimes, scams, and variants, it is also true that most people get by every day without similar incidents. Knowing about and being prepared for anything described above gives you an even greater advantage.

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