The Mexican Clown Con

Mexico Cons and Scams

Two years ago I published a hard hitting expose on the “Rose Scam” in Italy. Basically, all over Italy young men approach lady tourists, offer them a rose as a gift and after she is swept off her feet, they demand payment.

Here is an excerpt:

It is straight out of every girl’s Italian fantasy. She is at an iconic landmark like the Spanish Steps, the Rialto Bridge or the Piazza Navone, and she is approached by a handsome, charming Latin Lover with a bad boy look but a soft heart.

He tells her she is beautiful. He offers her a rose. She takes it. She rides on the back of his motorbike all over Rome, they fall in love, get married and have a giant wedding and live happily ever after.

It starts out like this:

Rose Scam in Italy

This above scene does play out countless times per day in Rome, Venice and Florence, as young men approach tourists and offer them a rose, trying to steal their hearts, or scam them out of a few Euros, to be precise.

After getting the rose, the girl takes a closer look to realize the man who just gave her the rose is not the Latin Lover of her dreams, but a guy from India or Bangladesh. And he wants money for the rose.

Indian Man Italy Rose ScamRecently in Mexico, I encountered something even more nefarious. A clown in the park in Merida was giving children “free” balloons. After the little kid was all stoked with his gift, the clown would then demand payment from the parents. To make matters worse, the clown was pushing around an old man in a wheelchair in an attempt to get sympathy.

Mexico Cons and Scams

Listen: If the clown was asking the parents in advance for payment, you know, like a salesman, that would have been okay. To first offer it as a gift – to a kid! – and then expect to be paid is a dirty trick. I saw one dad get totally pissed by this con and returned the balloon in a heated disagreement even though his poor kid was crying.

In addition to creepy con artists, Mexican clowns can be ruthless assassins. One of Mexico’s most powerful drug lords was once shot dead by a clown during a children’s party. If the cartels aren’t safe against clowns, then no one is!

To be on the safe side, all parents around the world should make their kids watch “It” at a young age and hang posters of Pennywise the clown in dark corners of the house in order to traumatize them so they run from clowns and do not accept balloons. This is the only way to ensure you are not cheated out of a few pesos or assassinated by a cartel next time you are in Mexico.

pennywise the clown

Pennywise. Creepy, yes. Then again, all clowns are creepy.


Have you fallen victim to a scam while traveling? 

Have you ever dressed as a clown in order to assassinate your enemy?

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33 Comments on “The Mexican Clown Con

  1. That is worse than the rose scam!! I’ll bet more roses are returned than balloons. Who wants to spend time around a crying kid!?

      • yes well, I’ll keep this in mind when I have kids someday! The rose scam in Italy must be new because I didn’t run into in 2001 when I visited there. Then again, I looked like what I was — a poor college kid. So maybe that kept them away.

  2. I hate all type of scams and even more when it involves kids…so cruel. Although traumatising the kids will probably not be a good thing, since all childhood traumas end up costing a fortune on Psychology bills in the future. I liked your drawings.

    • I guess that is the flip side, you could end up going too far and scaring kids into needing therapy. I may need to rethink this.

  3. There must be some inherent risks involved in these scams. Some people could get quite riled up when they figure it out.

  4. Wow, the lengths some people go to to make money! Hopefully, karma will get to them in the end and that clown goes home to a house full of crying kids!

  5. I have not experienced the clown scam but have experience the rose in Italy & pretty much anything offered in Morocco is done so with the expectation of payment. As an adult, i can handle it but it just seems wrong to prey on a child. OY!

    • I know, so rude to target kids. As Alison commented, karma will get him and he will return home to a house full of crying kids.

  6. JEESH…just when you thought the world was getting more conscious, in come the clowns, again. I’ve never been duped by a clown, and never saw It. But back in the 70’s, some Hari Krishna’s offered me a free big hardcover color spiritual book on all things sacred. When I accepted, they told me, no you can’t have that book, but you can have this puny pamphlet here instead. If you want that big book, you can pay $10 (which was a lot in the 70’s)…perfect bait and switch scheme.

  7. I don’t like clowns…please don’t send in the clowns! Although I would like to be dressed up as a clown to assassinate my “enemy”, phew, that is heavy stuff made up in nightmare land. As for scams, I haven’t experienced any yet (thank God but that just means I have not traveled far and wide unlike you) but I have just learned of a new scam in the Philippines, the country of all scams, that involves kids standing beside your car at traffic stops. They tap at your window begging for money and when you don’t give them any, they have this huge piece of rock ready and tap your window with it. What would a poor motorist do? You can’t just run over them, they’re children! Makes me embarrassed and sad. 😦

    • Wow, that is an intense one. That borders on extortion, more than just innocently cheating someone out of their money! Thanks for sharing.

  8. OMG did I have to look at Pennywise? I’ll have nightmares! Really creepy. We’ve certainly been scammed by taxi drivers – most obviously in Italy. Twice. And Don fell for the baby formula scam in India. Well I shouldn’t say fell for – he knew it was a scam but did it anyway. *I* fell for it. I didn’t know it was a scam until afterwards when he told me.

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