If you live in, or are about to visit Mexico City, this is a post that might well be worth reading. It’s about a chap I’ve met a few times now over the last three or four months. Some people are good at remembering faces. This guy is not. In fact he’s terrible at remembering faces. But then again, seeing as he stops to talk to so many people each day, all of them white faced tourists as best I can tell, perhaps it’s not surprising.
He is, as the title of the post suggests, a scam artist. He first approached me near the Postal Palace, across from Bellas Artes back in March or April. Real friendly, as you are when you’re about to try and convince someone to hand over some cash. About 30 seconds of chit chat – where are you from, I love the UK, you like Mexico? That sort of thing. Followed by the ‘story’. He got deported from the US. Or he’s a former military serviceman stuck on his way to Cancun. Or a bit of both. He’s got a handful of printed out pages from the internet, and starts showing them. They’re completely meaningless, and have virtually nothing to do with his story.
I’m sure he’s got a few more stories, but after the second time he approached me, I cut him off quick before he could begin, telling him how bad he is at remembering faces. Mine in particular. All his stories, and I’m sure they are all pretty similar bar a few convenient details, end up at the same place – can you give him some cash? Be a pal! The first time, I pointed to a homeless cripple no more than 5 metres away and asked why I’d give a scammer money when there are people who genuinely need it? He turned and walked away, muttering the F word under his breath – turns out he does that every time.
Over the last couple of weeks he’s approached me a few more times. His favourite hunting ground right now is the Fifa Fan Fest zone in the Zocalo. Plenty of tourists there. He came up to me again today, and just about got out his greeting before I reminded him again how terrible he is with faces. I reached into my bag to fish my camera out, but he did the off into the crowd. With the customary F word.
But he didn’t leave the area, and lo and behold, about 15 minutes later I saw him trying it on with a white faced couple. Out came the camera. I got a couple of shots. He saw me and hid behind the male member of the couple. There is potential from some innuendo here – the guy is short enough. He then departed, walking away from me. I put the camera bag in the bag, and turned back round to continue watching the football. My prediction for Netherlands to beat Brazil 2-1 was spot on, by the way.
Another ten minutes later, he came back past, and as he got closer, told me that he saw me trying to take photos of him. I told him that I had taken photos of him, not merely tried. He attempted to look menacing, and said he’d get his friends to break my camera if I took photos of him. I asked him why didn’t he try to break my camera now, by himself – he’s a war vet after all? Perhaps if the camera was forced far enough up his back passage, it would indeed break. My parting comment was that he was going in the wrong direction if he wanted to break my camera. Turns out he’s not so brave….
There is a downside to my new camera. It’s bulky, so I don’t take it everywhere with me. And it’s not in my pocket but wrapped up in a bag inside my bag. I’m going to start carrying my old Panasonic TZ5 around with me for a while. Next time I bump into him, I’m gonna turn on the video mode and make him a YouTube star!
For now, I think I’ll just email a printable warning sheet to the local hostels. He must be having some success fleecing tourists, because if he were drawing blanks every time, he wouldn’t still be doing it. And it does piss me off, because everyday I walk past dozens of assorted cripples, blind people and destitute elderly people who need the money more. Bloggers of Mexico City, feel free to use the image below if you want to draw attention to Señor Scam.
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