How to Avoid Scams at the Gas Station

Pemex scam

Pemex is the name of almost all gas station here. It is the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, created in 1938 by nationalized petroleum. The good thing is, all the Pemex have the same price (in each area), so no having to shop around for the best deal. However there are some crafty scams at Pemex gas stations in Mexico. Here are some of the most common ones. Hopefully this will prepare you so you can avoid the scams in Mexico at the pump. 

Pemex Gas Stations in Mexico

Here are a few basic things that make Pemex gas stations different.

  • Prices often are not even listed on signs, only at the pump.
  • There are attendants that pump the gas for you.
  • There are not always gas stations on long stretches of highway. It is always good to fill up when you see a Pemex gas station. We try to make a note in some article where there are no gas stations.
  • Some attendants will wash your windshield and if asked, will check your fluid levels.
  • A small tip is appreciated for the attendant’s service. Depending on what they do, 5-15 pesos is good. 

The bad thing is there are some scams that pump workers pull on foreigners and unsuspecting locals. Scams are more common than most would hope for and something that frustrates drivers because of having to think about it every time they fill up.

We have complied the top scams in Mexico at the pump and how you can avoid them. Here is helpful advice to keep from getting ripped off at the pump.

First scam at Pemex gas station in Mexico

The old money switch-a-roo. You go to pay with a 500 peso note and the attendant switches it fast in his hand and shows you a 50 peso note or even a 20. This happens so fast that at first you might think that you actually gave a 50 and you need to pay more. Both notes have the numbers five and zero and the old bills are similar colors. The new 500’s are the same color shade as the old 20 notes also. 

It is a big profit scam and that is why it is so popular. Even if you give a green 200 bill note some unscrupulous attendants will switch it in their hand for a blue 20 note. Crazy, isn’t it?  How do you avoid this? You can say how much you are giving the attendant. If you cannot say it in Spanish, hold it up and look at the attendant and keep your eyes on your money and change. Don’t leave without the correct change. Try to have exact change to pay for your gas.

Some people prefer to pay with a credit card, but there are issues there that can arise.

scams in MexicoOlder 500 notes and 50 notes can be switched by dishonest attendants at Pemex. 

Second scam at the gas station in Mexico

Not zeroing the pump. If you ask for 200 pesos and the pump is not zeroed from the last transaction of let’s say 100 pesos, they will add 100 pesos and the pump will read 200 peso charge but you actually only got 100 pesos of gas. How do you avoid this scam? When you pull up, notice the pump and watch them zero it.

Sometimes they even point to it and show you it is zeroed only to pull another scam, so still look out.

Third scam at the gas station in Mexico

Pumping from the other side of the pump. You will not see the reading of your service and you will not get to check if it truly started at zero. How to avoid this scam, when you pull up, just be observant and if they reach for the other side, get out to check the pump numbers. This scam is not that common but can happen.

Fourth scam at the gas station in Mexico

You pull up and are in the car with friends or family, you ask for gas and then pay and go. Without checking the pump to actually see if they added the amount, you asked for. If you asked for 400 pesos worth and then they added 300 pesos and you drive off, you just got scammed for 100 pesos. If you catch them doing this, they may pretend that they do not understand you and then add the other 100 pesos even if your Spanish is good.

How to avoid this scam? Pay attention when the pumping is done. All of these scams are done more easily if you are distracted or in a hurry. Take you time, it can save you money.

Fifth scam at the gas station in Mexico

You go to pay and the attendant walks away. Another new attendant comes and ask for you to pay. How to avoid this scam? Watch the attendant, take note of what he looks like, ask where he is going, even go with him for your change. This scam does not happen often but still be on the lookout.

Sixth scam at the gas station in Mexico

Attendant is behind your car filling it up but also has a container that they out some gas into. This makes you pay for more gas than you get. This scam does not happen often because it is hard to be out of mirrors view. To avoid this scam (especially if your tank lid is in the back of your car) get out of the car to watch or pretend to stretch to keep an eye on things.

Seventh scam at the gas station in Mexico

The attendant asks if you want some oil or other specialty liquid for your engine. If your levels are low, they might sell you a bottle of something. They show you the bottle and then start pouring it in. You might even see them do this through the gap in the hood of the car. So, what is the scam? They show you a new bottle but switch it out and only pretend to pour in a new bottle or anything at all. You just got scammed out of some pesos.

You can avoid this scam by not having them check levels or if they do, get out and watch them.

Eighth scam at the gas station

You go to pay with a credit card, and they say they don’t accept them. They offer to take US dollars but will then just exchange it at the rate they give you.

You can avoid this scam because you know that they do take cards. You can also make sure you have pesos on hand and use them.

Attendants will also say the credit card machine is not working. This is the most common scam now. Then they will ask for cash. You leave and find out the charge went through, and you paid twice. To Avoid this scam there are two things you can do. Ask for the receipt of the credit card machine. If you need to fight the charge you need a receipt. Second, always pay in cash. 

How to avoid issues at Pemex gas stations

One way to avoid some scams is ask for how many liters of gas you want. If you know your car and the capacity of the tank, then you can tell how much you need to fill the tank.

Always being attentive while filling up is good and keep this list in mind when you fill up.

What Pemex gas stations are the worst offenders?

Most scams at the pump happen at gas stations where tourist fill up more often. We find stations on the edge of Playa Del Carmen on the highway and in Tulum to be the worst culprits.

If you have a local station and you fill up often, it is nice to go there often. They will recognize you and you have a much better chance of not getting a scam tried on you.

Don’t feel bad taking your time, even getting out of the car and watching. Never pay before the gas is pumped. Since you cannot pump your own gas, you have to be mindful of those that do. Educated tourist are the worst enemy of Pemex scams.

Tip: Gas stations where taxis fill up are often known to be better stations. Often there is one pump that gives the full amount of gas and taxis know this. 

The one thing that is not a scam is the extra service they offer. Most will offer or already start to wash your windshield and check your oil or fluids for you. This is a way for them to honestly earn tips. Most of these attendants work hard and in the heat all day. Usually, a tip for washing the windows or good care grants a 5-15 peso tip.

Remember that as a consumer you have rights in Mexico. You can report scams to Profeco. Profeco is the Mexican consumer agency. This agency also visits Pemex gas stations and makes sure they are measuring the gas correctly that goes into your car. For more about Profeco you can see our article here.

Note on trustworthy gas stations

Even if there is a post online about a certain gas station being bad, employees come and go all the time because these are low paying jobs. It is impossible to list one station as good or ask the question why they don’t fire the bad people. Workers can just go to another gas station job if fired. 

Happy motering and scam free travel.

Do you have a Pemex gas station story? We would love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments below.

Other scams in Mexico to watch out for

You might also want to read our article about scams related to timeshares and vacation clubs in our article here. Also our article on how to avoid tourist traps and scams in Playa Del Carmen article might interest you.

Do you like our guides? We have more!

We not only look out for you with scams in Mexico but also dozens of other guides here

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  1. After prepaying in cash the pump STOPPED WORKING?? They did not give any change back as they pretended not to remember how much we paid them. Another time they dropped one of the bills and while we went to pick it up the attendant tried to pocket one of the other bills – we caught him.
    They say the credit card machine does not work – just to get cash and work a scam – I NEVER pay cash and always get out to watch them pumping.

    • Thanks for your tips and observations. It is very frustrating that there are so many ways people at the gas stations try to scam you. We are always on the look out for the bad guys.

    • hi there,

      We just got scammed at Pemex station in Cancun on our way to return our car to American Car Rental. I gave my husband a 500 peso note to pay, and actually told him to take note of that, the attendant was asking my husband how his vacation was etc, my husband gave him the 500, and the attendant immediately showed him that he gave him only 50 pesos. My husband than thought maybe I gave him a 500 and a 50 peso note and he might have dropped it; but I absolutely gave him a 500 peso note. It happened so fast, we did not realize it until later. We did report this to the American car rental guy, but his response was relatively indifferent. So buyers beware! and I would suggest holding on to your cash, until you see the change being offered and also stating out very loud what you are giving to them.

    • It should be scam # 9 we were returning the rental car back to Thrifty when we stopped to get gas at Pemex. We were low on pesos to fill the gas tank and wanted to use a credit card to pay, and the attendant comes and tells us that the card did not go through. He hands me a slip that says declined, but lucky for us the credit card sent a text stating he charged $85 dollars of gas which was about $1,500 pesos (the gas we purchased was only 500 pesos). We called our credit card company and confirmed the charge went through. He still denied the card went through, but he then locatedthe transaction in the record and says oh yes sorry. We asked him to refund the card but he said I can not put it back to the card to refund the charge, but he offered us cash back. He was clearly scamming us and we should have complained to his boss to get him fired but we were in a hurry. Not only was he trying to charge the card and then get cash in addition, but he over charged the card by 1000 pesos. If I didn’t receive an automated text message from my credit card company when I made the transaction, I would have not known until I was long gone.

      • CAncun airport before returning my rental to hertz at 6am, I was told my credit card didn’t work and that I had to go to terminal 2 to get cash to pay them. THey took my ID and wrote something down before paying. I believe this was to make them seem more legit. I told them I didn’t have time to go get the cash and I just left. He said he would call the police. I told him to go ahead. When I arrived at the airport I called visa and they confirmed I had in fact been charged for the gas. Beware. Get out. Use cash. Watch the meter. Especially at early hours.

    • We got taken in Tulum,the usual credit card did not work and pay cash, the card did work but they also pressed a button on the pump to say it cost 950 but was only 650. Next day went back and confronted them and got my money back. Took photos of the people involved and talked to the manager. Sent email to there head office with all the detail. We also got done with the fake speeding cop. Love Mexico but they need to clean up this theft. We need to all assist and report these scams to help other tourists.

      • John I just got scammed with the credit card “no connection” plus inflated amount on the pump.
        I want to write to PEMEX HQ but cant find a contact number or name or email. who did you write to?

    • We experienced this at the Puerto Morelos Pemex station. They took our credit card for payment and then told us that their system was down and asked if we could pay cash. I did and once we returned to the States, we received a charge on our statement. I requested a copy of the receipt and they in fact had run the charge and forged my signature . I assumed this would be a pretty clear-cut case but when I filed a dispute with Capital One, they chose to do nothing but support the merchant in this fraudulent transaction. A real shame as there seems to be so much fraud taking place you would think the credit card companies would pay attention and take steps to try and protect their consumers but they seem clearly disinterested. I’ certainly can be mad at the gas station and the individuals but I feel more upset for everyday Mexicans who suffer under the perception of widespread corruption because this is many peoples last impression in leaving Mexico.
      As for Capital One and other credit card agencies simply brushing this off and perpetuating the problem…there’s no excuse for their negligence.

  2. This is a very important article for people that move here or are going to be driving here to read. There are so many scams at the gas stations in Mexico I hate it. I always get out and watch them. I have had several try the switch of money on me. One time it was even a 20 for 200 peso note. They are not even the same color! I get after them each time and tip honest people at the gas station.

    • Yes we felt it important to tell people about gas stations here. We like to warn people about bad services and scams so people can focus on having a good vacation. This year there is a chance for outside gas companies to have gas stations so it will be interesting to see if things change and there is more competition.

  3. It is good you mention these scams because I have been at Pemex gas stations where they flip the money around. I wish Pemex cared more about the employees either paying them more or doing surprise inspections so the scams stop. Maybe this year when new gas stations open that are not Pemex, there will be some competition to improve.

  4. Just the other day I went to pay for gas and the guy flipped the bill around so fast I had to think. I cannot wait until there is some competition with these gas stations and they have to think if they want to scam people.

  5. These are good tips for tourist and locals. I hate when the gas station attendants try to pull a fast one and scam people.

  6. It is good you educate tourist to these scams at Pemex gas stations. They are pretty slick coming up with new ones to pull over on tourist.

  7. First time in playa del carmen and got the fliparoo!!! I did not know about it until I thought I was going crazy! but I remember the station and have the receipt to put them on blast on line with their address and station number so people can avoid those stations. People we all should just stop tipping them altogether due to some punk thieves ruining it for the hard working honest people and maybe they get the message and stop. One of the stations was # 12118 Autopista merida cancun km 300. The other is 6994 at Km 339 both have con artists working here! From now on I qill definitely keep an eye wide open and clearly show and remind them what I an handing to them before I let go of my money

    • We are glad you are aware of the scams. Some of the trouble is the owners are honest but get an employee or to that are bad and then they fire them but they go to work at another station. Of course owners can be dishonest as well. For know we can all just keep alert to their scams and we will post new ones that develop.

    • There is a government agency called Profeco that makes inspections of the stations. So usually this is not an issue. Also knowing your cars tank size is good because if your tank is empty and it only holds 40 liters and they tell you it is 45 they put in, you know something is wrong.

  8. These attendants are crooks and liars and should all be fired. If they lose the tourist business the whole damn country is done. Alas, it is Mexico, but the government and the workers are playing with fire. Karma will get em.

  9. Visiting Playa Del Carmen this time we decided to rent a car and make a few days trip to Bacalar. On the way back, just passed Tulum, we stopped at gas station. It wasn’t Pemex, I don’t remember the name, looks new to me. But scam was the same, the attendant tried to switch 200 pesos bill to 20.
    I even gave him another 200, but then realized what happened and came back. The attendant quietly returned 200. He probably was able to read my face. Be aware!

    • That is good to hear your report. We were hopping with the new “La Gas” stations they would be in competition with the established monopoly of Pemex, but to no avail. We will work hard to keep exposing scams so there is more pressure to be honest. We are glad you caught it.

  10. I think, if anyone has information about the “GOOD” gas stations and locations, these information should be put on the websites as well. I heard so much about the “BAD” and seemed that there are no good stations all around, which are almost unbelievable. The information about the “GOOD” stations will help promoting their businesses and get more tourists to come to their places.

    • This would be good but the problem is not bad gas stations it is the employees. Many times if the manager fires a bad employee they often just go to work at another station. So having a list of “Good” Station would be pointless. For people living here, you can try to fill up at the same station and the people get to know you, and you have less issues.

    • There are a lot of “good” stations they just have “bad” people working at them. And as one person said once you report them and they’re fired, they just show up at a different station.

  11. My experience is that all the attendants are thieves.
    If they start asking you personal questions, they are only
    Only trying to throw you off guard. They are slight of hand artists. Never hand over several large bills at
    Once. They will switch a bill for one much smaller. If you are going to buy gas in Mexico, you had better be
    on guard.

    • Well we would not go as far as saying all gas attendants are thieves but there are enough of them that are bad that it is an issue. We have had some very pleasant women that pump gas and could not be more nice and honest and some pleasant guys pump the gas as well. However being alert is a must at the Pemex stations.

  12. We were scammed at a Pemex in Cozumel. We asked for 5 gallons to fill a rental to 3/4 tank, and we got charged 587 pesos for 5 gallons, if we really got that amount since it is in liters!! I believe they did not zero out the pump. There were four attendants, and I think one of them was blocking the display, so it could not be seen. One even had a smart phone connected to the pump! Probably to change the numbers. The thing is you don’t know about the scams before it happens, unless somebody else you know has been there.

  13. Sounds very familiar! Just came back home from Riviera Maya yesterday and during our 2 week trip they tried number 1 and kind of number 4. It got my adrenaline lever up every time even thinking of filling the tank.

    I think the money switching is definitely the most common, but it’s also very easy to notice if you know of it. If they try it just jump off the car and start shouting at the attendant of trying this very old trick 🙂 Usually they became speechless and hand over the right amount of change.
    Not zeroing the pump however seemed not possible anymore. As at least every time I saw the pump zeroed automatically after they picked up the hose.

    Everything else is avoidable by paying attention to the pump and the readings while they fill the tank.

    • Thanks for your comments. This issue seems to come up around Christmas and high season as we have had several people comment on this today. We will make sure we warn tourist now about it and re-remind our readers about this issue. Thanks for your comments.

  14. Unfortunately we got scammed today! We did read about this but still were caught off guard!
    This happened at the lagas station right after leaving Tulum.
    The scammer switched the 500 notes for 50 in a blink of an eye. I seriously thought I had given him 2 notes of 50 but when I checked my wallet later on I realized what happened!
    Tourists please beware!!!!
    First time we experienced this and this left us with a bitter taste!!!

    • So sorry this happened to you. It is good to hear from tourist that this is still going on so we have a pulse of what is happening and where. We were hoping that with new gas stations other then Pemex that there would be more competition but this is not the case. Same workers, same scammers, same scams.

  15. Great article guys…I was just in Tulum and they tried 3 of the aforementioned scams on me at the same time. I couldn’t believe it. I googles this after realize that non of what has happened made any sense.


  16. We got scammed in Cozumel even though we were prepared for deceitful attendants. It left us with such a bad feeling ruining an otherwise delightful time on the island. We filled up our rental before returned the car and ended up paying 700 pesos for approx 10 litres. The station was at 95th avenue south and avenue Lic Benito Juarez. When we told the car rental agency about the experience she advised that next time we rented on the island to return the car without filling up and she would look after it for us. In my opinion I might pay a premium to the rental agency but it would be a lot cheaper than being scammed!

    • Sorry this happened to you. We do thank you for your experience because it does help us know what is a trend and also what to warn other tourist about. We try to keep things enjoyable for everyone and root out the things to look out for.

  17. Happened to me at the Pemex Northbound just before the turnoff for the airport in Cancun July 2016. Since I visit Playa often, Ive made this Pemex a routine stop with my rental car. I always get out of the car and watch the process yet I got the 50 peso 500 scam played on me by a female attendant. Now I hold back, make eye contact with the attendant say the amount out loud I am giving them and make them pull the bill from my fingers rather than just hand it to them.

  18. They way I have found that is the safest, ask for a certain number of litres. 20L, 30L, something like that. Watch them zero it out, and let it run. Assuming they don’t dump some gas into another container (I always get out to stretch my legs) they have to show you the amount, with the number of litres on the screen also. The only problem is that you need to have change more likely. small price to pay in my opinion.

  19. Tulum Pemex scam #1 today! Attendant showed zeroed clock and filled up 675 pesos. Given 3 green 200’s and a 100. Switched one 200 for a blue 20 to rip us off 180 pesos. The 3 of us literally screamed NO! at him. Backtracked and switched it back to 200 instantly!! Deserved a tip for audacious brazen behavior!

    This snidey thief (Pemex on right going into Tulum from PDC – just before Scotiabank) washed our windows and asked about our home countries to gain confidence. However alarm bells started to ring when, observing the cash coming out of a backseat passengers purse he OPENED THE BACK DOOR to reach for the gas payment!

    Warning. These theives watch everything going on inside the car through the back side window – assessing value and cash while filling up and chatting amiably. Have the cash ready first before you pull up. Lock the other 3 doors. Incredible behavior. Broad daylight robbery by a govt employee in a federal govt facility!

  20. Thanks to this article I avoided a scam just a few hours ago. Guy pocketed the 500 peso note and showed me a 50 peso note. I stood my ground and even tried reaching into his pocket a couple times. When he saw I wasn’t backing down he shrugged and walked off

    • Good to hear you did not get scammed. It seems to be their usual response to someone catching them. They walk to the office and return with the money. We hate to see this happen so we work hard to alert people.

  21. Scam #1 literally just happened to me. Gave $500 next thing I know he tells me I gave him a $50. It happened so quick that I didn’t even fight it. Be careful out there.

    • Yes, this just happened to me in CABO. PEMEX at the Airport. I am so good, got out of the car and that happened. F’ing cheats. Now they (Cabo/Mexico) lost all of my future dollars. Dumb fks do not know how they are screwing their country.

  22. At the Pemex station just right next to cancun airport I tried to pay with my credit card but the card got declined twice after which I tried with another card. The guy even asked for my ID. When I got home I realised the employee swapped my card and gave me the blocked card of another person. He obviously had time to use my card for thousands of dollars worth of transactions.

  23. Great article and comments. Headed to Cancun/Tulum in a couple of weeks and will be renting a car, so this is very helpful. But, one thing I don’t see covered is what to do if you catch someone in the act or think you’re being scammed. Should you challenge the attendant? Go see the manager, leaving the family in the locked car? What would happen if the wife filmed each station transaction on her iPhone from pull in to pull out, would the sight of being filmed deter scammers? Thanks for the additional help.

    • Hello Mark

      That is a good question. The best thing is to get out of the car and ask in Spanish for what you want in gas. If you don’t speak Spanish then just the basics. Watch them carefully and when you go to pay, hold out the money and give it to them slowly. If they pull the trick of bills, just ask for your change. Sometimes they go to the office and return with your money. You can ask for the manager but you should be able to solve it with the attendant. They don’t get upset, just sheepish when you catch them. Just play the game, get your money and leave. No sense in creating a big scene after you get your money and giving a speech about no stealing.

  24. 4 1/2 months in Mexico and I thought I was getting away scam free at the Pemex’s until March 18th at Pemex #11989 on the 15D Cuota near Miguel Hidalgo. After filling up my RV with 78 liters (1239 pesos) the attendant tried 3 times to process on my Mastercard and each time it didn’t work. I finally paid effectivo (cash) and proceeded on the Teotihuacan. Checking my card balance on line a few days later there was the 1239 peso charge against the credit card. I hope Mastercard will help me with this upon my return to Canada in May as it is too far out of my way, and too much hassle, to go back and try to argue it out with the Pemex folks. The lesson here is I will never use the credit card again at Pemex, only cash, and ideally have the correct amount of cash available.

  25. I was with a rented car taking gasoline in Tulum, adress Carretera Cancún – Tulum, SM. 10 Mza. 03. Lote 2, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico. I had asked to fill up the tank, that was done by one guy.
    A very friendly second guy was giving me tips what road to take, etc, in the mean time cleaning the front window. Suddenly, the first guy had filled up the tank, and was showing the amount to pay. No number of liters on the tankterminal, only the amount of Pesos to pay. I added a tip for the guy who had cleaned the window. After leaving, I noticed that the tank was filled up only partly, but had paid for a full tank. Later on my trip, filling up a second time, I understood I was scammed.

  26. We were scammed at the Pemex just outside the Cancun airport in June 2015. We had used up all our pesos knowing we were on our way home and planned to use a card at the gas station before returning our rental. All cards were “declined” and the attendant said we had to get cash or they would call the police. He got into our car and told us we had to drive to an ATM but his English was terrible and we didn’t know where to go. He directed us to a sketchy warehouse complex with a guarded gate which ended up another issue all the while our flight time was getting closer and closer. We ended up taking him to the car rental place, they couldn’t help us, so he actually came to the airport with us where we found an ATM and gave him the cash. As soon as we got home we cancelled all our cards. One had been charged for the gas so that attendant got a nice tip for his run around that day. I will always have the rental place refill the tank from now on.

    • Well we have never heard a story like this, so hopefully this was a one time thing a couple of years ago. But nonetheless, we tend not to be surprised what we hear that tricky gas station attendants do.

  27. Just got scammed twice in one day in tulum and cancun when driving back to the airport to return home. The gas station in Tulum informed us the credit card machine was not working after we had asked to confirm they took cards before filling up. We were told we had to get cash so we left IDs and got cash. Charge showed up up on card when we got back to the states (attendant pocketed the $$$). In retrospect, there were 3 attendance chatting up my husband and distracting him so we were probably targeted. Next fraud, At Pemex at cancun airport, they overcharged our card and also stole the card! Attendant asked for our ID and card and went away for a while. When he came back he returned the ID and not the card in a quick switch. We were rushing to return the car and didn’t realize it until we got to our terminal. Immediately called our credit card to cancel the card. There were about 5 other transactions that day at other gas stations around after we left Mexico. And the gas station charge was well over what it should have been. Be aware – save pesos for gas and don’t let them try and distract you. Such a sad way to end a beautiful trip to Mexico.

    • Thank you for your experience and sorry that were not good. We have heard more and more gas stations not accepting cards and there seem to be more scams related to this. We hope this information is beneficial to our readers.

  28. I got scammed today. Ran my card 3 times out of sight and then said the machine wasn’t working and I needed to pay cash. I paid cash, in pesos. I then checked with my CC and saw the charges. I had the charges declined so I didn’t lose anything. Poverty does not make a thief. Thieves are the scum of the earth.

    • We are not sure the exact scam they are pulling, but more and more the attendants are saying the card machine is not working. Some don’t even want to run a card. We know skimmers are possible. Maybe they are trying to charge cards multiple times and the station manager is in on it. Thank you for your comments. They all help us to have a clear picture what is going on and help warn others.

      • One attendant ran my card while another chatted me up. Then the first attendant handed the machine to the second attendant. Attendant #2 told me the “wireless problem” and said I needed to pay cash. Thankfully I had the correct amount of pesos and handed it to him and left. I was at the Pemex right by the Europcar rental at the airport. Its sad that these thieves can tarnish a trip and reflect so poorly on Mexican people, which I have great respect for.

        Pemex should allow people to pump their own gas and use credit card machines.

        • That idea would seem to alleviate some of the issues. We will keep your suggestion in mind if we ever get to talk to Pemex or promote that in forums.

  29. Returning the rental car in Cozumel, stopped at the Pemex station downtown to fill up. The attendant ran my credit card and then said they had a wireless problem, so I paid cash. Very suspicious, so I checked my credit card statement when I got home and there it was. A US$56 charge for gasoline. I never signed a credit card slip, so am disputing the charge through my bank.

    • Hello Doug

      Thank you for your report. This type of thing of saying card machines are not working is happening more and more. Letting us know and other readers helps keep people aware of scams. Thanks again.

  30. Another victim.Scammed.. STAY from Pemex gas station on North side Cozumel Island.

    Pretend my card didn’t work.. took 400 pesos is cash from me as well. In all I paid $69 for 8 liters of gas.. Makes you want to drag them down the road to help see the who the real Banditos are…

  31. Just happened to me 6/18 at the PEMEX in front of Soriana closest to SJD Cabo airport…Try to pay with credit card told machine does not work (after CC swiped in) need to pay pesos which I speak good enough Spanish to tell him he was lucky I had that on me as I usually don’t and told him I want a receipt for the cash for the rental co which he tried to tell me that machine didn’t work either but I said too bad I’ll be here all afternoon until your boss fixes it to which he then gave a receipt finally and voila’ $98.00 USD on credit card which I declined immediately with CC. PEMEX & the Mexican people who I dearly love are ruining their own livelyhood fast by doing this.

  32. I agree with the poster who said it was easiest avoided (when returning car) to pay the premium at rental agency. Gas stations near airports and rental agencies know that people are usually in a rush or otherwise distracted.The premium is not very much and saves getting scammed.
    When you do “have to” gas up ie along a lengthy road trip… use diligence in having correct cash ready in advance, pay after monitoring the fill-up and specify as you give each bill (seperately) to attendant. If poss have your partner etc be next to you as you are handing the cash over.
    I have evn stated to an attendant that I need back (x amount) pesos change from the 500 I am giving him…just to be sure what is expected.

  33. We were told by our dive shop to fill up at the gas station in PDC on the corner of 5 and Colosio. Queue to get in due to all the Taxis filling up. We had no problems – The pump was set for the amount we wanted to pay. Windows washed and tipped attendant. No problems.
    Anyone no a good one near Akumal?

    • We are glad to hear you had a good experience. Where the taxis go is a good sign. The problem with recommending a gas station is the fact employees change often and one day it is good and another bad. It is best just to be aware of the scams and be vigilant.

  34. We had an incident at the Pemex station in Cozumel. We had rented a scooter and before returning it we had to refill it. Pulled into the station and the two guys directed us to a certain pump. They distracted us while talking and pointing into the tank so we did not see them reset the pump. They ended up charging us $154 pecos and it should have been much, much less. But they kept smiling and even though we questioned them about the cost they kept pointing at the pump saying that is what we owed them. We didn’t argue and paid but were frustrated and disappointed we got taken advantage of.

  35. You try to pay with credit card. They pump the gas and tell you your card didn’t work OR reader not working. So, you go ahead and pay in cash only to later find the gas charge on your card!!! ?

    • Hello Shawn

      This seems to be the scam de jour or the latest thing they do. Thank you for commenting about it.

  36. They are not all bad, here in Ensenada I stopped to put 2000 peso’s in and inadvertently gave the attendant 4000 peso’s and started to drive away and he came running up and gave me the excess money back before I even realized my mistake!!

  37. Ensenada 7-11 at Reforma and Ambar:
    WHOLE store/station consistently scams! Lived near and kept testing to see if I was right! In store, ALWAYS insist price is higher, sticker on shelf, or promotional flyer is wrong.

    Four times I had them check my oil, almost always 1-2 qts low (so I do NOT buy, go home and check, NOT LOW)
    THE SCAM: I watched and caught it, while the hood is up, I watch closely through the crack and see them push the dipstick all the way (click), they withdraw and come around to show me on stick how low. THE TRICK: before lowering the lid they wipe away part of the oil to make it SHOW low. So extremely fast, trick of the eye! NEVER buy oil from stations, but this whole station is corrupt! Do NOT support thieves!

  38. This bill switching problem is really out of control. It just happened to me yesterday for the second time at a station near cancun. I caught it and what happened after is just amazing. I was out of the car and she did the 500/50 switcheroo and i immediately called her on it. when i said i was going to call the police she coughed up the change for my 500. I was so angry we pulled into the 7-eleven at the station and were going to find the manager. The stars aligned and amazingly a Policia Federal rolled into the station a few minutes later. we immediately went and told him what happened- he was super nice. he walked over and talked to the girl and you could tell she was shaking in her boots. He then got all my information and said he was going to walk up to the office and talked to the manager. We had to leave and get to the airport but we talked to a few people that said almost for certain that the attendant will lose her job, which is great. The other major issue we continually have in this region is that the attendant says the dont take credit cards. we went to 3 stations in a row a few days earlier and all of them said cash only. they DO take cards-you can see the credit card machines right there. but they dont want to because that does not give them the opportunity to scam you with the cash tricks. it really is unbelievable how corrupt the pemex workers are. WATCH OUT. pay attention to what is going on.

    • Thank you Ryan for your story. It seems that women gas attendants should be more honest for some reason but as you experienced, this is not the case. We are glad to hear that you did speak up and make it know that this cannot be tolerated.

  39. Haven’t been to Cancun but planning a trip for this winter. I was thinking of renting a vehicle but this gas scam thing has me concerned. However, has anyone tried to turn the tables on the scammers? (ie scam the scammer) Instead of handing the clerk a 200 or 500 peso note to pay for gas, hand them a 20 or 50. That will force them to acknowledge the amount you just gave them as of course it won’t be enough to cover the cost of the gas. As a tourist, you can play dumb and say “oh, I didn’t realize is was a 50 cause they look alike, etc….”
    Just a thought.
    If someone tries it, I’d like to hear how it went 🙂

    • Hello Rod
      Well it does not really work to scam them because you are the one giving it. You would have to show them the 200 then instantly flip it while handing it too them and people usually look at it while taking it. Also, you don’t know who is a scammer, so you may be scamming a hard working person. The issues should not make you not rent a car. Just be aware of these issues, stand outside when pumping and watch, pay cash, and show them the note before handing it to them.

      • Just to clarify, I’m not saying to try the flip thing on the attendant. There is full intention of paying the full price. However instead of giving them a 500 peso note at the start of the transaction, you give them a 50. That may derail the attempt by the attendant to scam the customer as their ploy is to make the customer think he gave a 50 when it was a 500. So, just short circuit the whole thing and give them a 50 right off the bat. The attendant will of course point out that it is only a 50. As a tourist you can play dumb and say sorry i thought it was a 500. Then hand over the 500 saying “this is the 500 right? “. Then carefully complete the rest of the transaction.

  40. Interesting idea, however these pemex attendants are very polished at these tricks so i highly doubt they will fall for it. In addition, gas in mexico is very expensive. A 20 peso bill will barely buy you 1 liter of gas. the reason people like myself are handing over 500 peso bills is because it can easily cost 700 or 800 pesos to fill a small to mid size car. next time i am considering pulling out my phone and recording the whole transaction to document it. if they pull a trick on video and i show to the police they will not only lose their job but they will face legal troubles.

  41. Gasolinera Pemex
    México 307 Mz40Lt1, Playa Magna, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico Gas Station
    DO NOT go to this PMEX gas station. I was at Playa Carman for my son’s wedding and on my way to airport I stopped by this station to fill up my rental car before returning to airport. The gas attendant waved me in for a full service which is fine since I do not quite know now to operate their pump. While he started pumping gas, he made an effort to get me out of the car to see how much he is pumping. After he finished pumping it was 240 pesos, so I gave him two 100 peso bills and one 50 peso bill. He quickly say I paid him 200, one of the 100 bill became a 50 peso bill. At first I thought I could have make a mistake my self. So I took the 200 peso back from him and gave him a 500 peso bill since I don’t have enough change. Very quickly he said I paid him only 50 peso (somehow he swapped the bill into a 50 peso bill very quickly). I realized he is setting a trap and I did not want to argue with him since I don’t speak Spanish and it seems like he is going to ganged up on me with the other attendants. I ended up paying 750 peso for 240 peso worth of gasoline. Afterwards I understood why he lured me out of my car so he could played his trick on me one on one without any other witness. This person is VERY BAD and DISHONEST and really put a shame on the PMEX brand.

    • Thank you for your experience Russell. It should be noted that all Pemex gas stations are full service. You cannot pump your own gas in Mexico. If this were allowed this might eliminate many of the scams.

  42. CABO back to airport with rental car.
    PEMEX 4373 N23 deg and W 109 deg 44 min.

    Pulled short of pump so punk #1 could not block pump gauges. Don’t tell which grade to get until I am standing next to him. Pump does start on zero. Punk # 2 goes to back side of pump and tries to distract me then goes to the front of Jetta to wash windshield NO..Rental car going back in 15 min. Pump shuts off at 22L..about right for a 55L fuel tank about 5/8 FULL. Have cell ready for camera shot of pump, punk #1 tells me to check the car’s fuel gauge….I say it shut off, good enough. #1 sees the cell, stands in front of the numbers. #2 comes back and wipes the pump. Numbers are gone and #1 tells me that the amount is 748 p for get this 57L of gas. I say that is not possible with a 55L tank …was Googled later after pick up from rental. Sale amount was gone BUT he had it on his little calculator and then converted into USD $44. I said it would not have taken but 25L MAX to fill it. Now he doesn’t know English. we stand there not budging and then the xmxmxmx bmxmxmx tells me that I will miss my flight. Call policeia (sp) I know where this is headed. 20 USD lighter.

    Lesson learned……have two people to watch them

  43. 5 guys just running front of me and wave to fill the tank with them,the guy started the process said to open the cap the other guy just washed the window, music is in the car friends laughing prepare to cath the plane, i totally doesnt cares whats going on , its was 175 pesos wich can be correct howewer i didnt checked the counter but i just gone to hotel two times to the city and back so its cluld be true
    I gave 20 american dollar he just talked spanish blablabla 30sec later showed i gave 1$ but didnt said anything im just said sorry i pay with card ( i dont really know the dollar and dont really knkw how much i had)(just when i arrive back to usa and gone to bad realised i had 20$ because i wanted to give a tip at last night in restaurant but i cant because i dont wanted to change and 20$ is too much for a tip)
    No problem pay by card at this moment im losed 19$
    The deal started while we walked to the card terminal he said my card is declined , i gave other card and paid the correct ammount.he took my first card,
    When i wanted to check at my hotel in Miami did not find my card i had 4 before you can guess the guy didnt gave it back to me , wich is my stupidity but still pretty unfair , but after these game the people just want to catch the plane and hope that they will not steal your pants.
    I also gave my last 50 peso because is pretty funny to walk to the money change to change back 2,5dollar poor guys lets help him just gaved with smile.
    6hours later called my bank whats going on they tried to get some money at 14 times 12:16 70$ 12:17 70$ 12:30 60$
    Just like a game , luckly my card was blocked automaticly , but still fuck these guy im on my way back to Cancun and kick out the shit from this thief.
    Thats too much lets steal 20$ but not a card,

  44. Yep, got clipped at the Pemex just outside of Cancun airport–the 500/50 switch. Next time, will take picture of the amount to hand to attendant before doing so. Too bad — the experience spoils the trip. I have to think that managers are complicit, that they turn a blind eye. I also got clipped going north out of Tulum by corrupt speed trap. Officer shows 68 kph on radar gun–you know it was a taxi or such, not me. It was a 40 kph zone (25 mph). Checked my GPS later, nowhere near 68 kph. Paid off cop with 1,000 pesos.

    I might skip my next trip to Mexico–even though we love it, it makes you think twice.

    Oh, I’m sure I was a huge target after renting a Cooper Mini convertible! I guess I paid extra three times for that little luxury.

    • Stan

      Thanks for sharing your story. We hope we can advise others before they drive so they can avoid some of these problems here. It is frustrating that a few bad apples spoil peoples trip here. One tip for dealing with police stops is to just wait for them to give you a ticket. They usually are waiting for you to act first, often by offering money. Most of the time 88% of the time they will not give a ticket. It might take a few more minutes but it helps stop bribery and saves you money. Once they see people give in they can push further and ask for more and then it does not feel very good. The Riviera Maya is better than most parts of Mexico but people still have problems. It is a shame.

  45. Just been scammed this weekend at the Pemex station ( Gasol La Coruna ) driving out of Tulum on the RH side down towards the Beach / Hotel Zone ( Has an Oxxo store attached )
    Paid by Visa and the scum of an attendant came from behind the pump and said the card had been declined and even produced a decline slip. Paid for the Gas in cash in US $ only to find on the return to the UK that the transaction has actually gone through on my account.

    have disputed this with my Bank in the UK and hopefully the guys at Lloyds VISA can do something about what is obviously a major problem.
    Loved Mexico and Tulum but very doubtful that we’ll come back – scammers are getting the country a very bad reputation and damaging the tourism.

    • Your comment made us think, we wonder if the slip is a standard slip with no individual credit card info on it. Maybe they printed up a bunch and have them ready to scam people. Anyways, thank you for commenting.

  46. NEW SCAM. Pemex at CTM and 307 has tried the same scam twice. Somehow, they reset the pump mid-fill to show the amount you originally requested. Example: you ask for $500 pesos, and a partner distracts you by asking to fill your tires with air (always the furthest tire from the pump). All of a sudden, your at $500 pesos and is shown on the tank.

    Ask for a recibo (receipt) and ensure it’s your pump and time and only pay that amount.

    I realize not all Pemex attendants are thieves, but it sure seems that way. Pulling up in a rental car seems to be an invitation for a rip off.

    What a shame – the people in Mexico are generally great. Between Pemex and the police at the “filtro” stop near CUN, really makes me question my choice of retirement.

  47. Stayed in Tulum for 4 days. Probably got gas three times. Each time it was Pemex, and each time they attempted multiple scams. From claiming cards were not accepted, to having multiple attendants around the vehicle obscuring the view of the person pumping the gas and the gas pump itself. I speak enough spanish to have even argued with one of them about what he was trying to charge. I asked for exactly 350 pesos worth of gas, I give the guy 20 dollars U.S. and he claims I owe him 22.75?! We both pull out calculators and my math has me at 18 dollars, roughly. When I ask him about the additional money I owe, he points to a handwritten sign that has “15.50” on it. Apparently at the pump they’re tacking on some kind of service fee, that only applies to tourists. It’s unfathomable that they’re allowed to operate that way. How much money are they stealing from nonlocals monthly? Annually? Puts an extremely bad taste in my mouth for an otherwise beautiful place.

    • This is bad that it happened. We always recommend paying in Pesos and not dollars anywhere because any business can accept what ever rate they want. They do not have to accept them and it is work to exchange them as well. Other then that, keeping an eye on the gas station attendants is key.

  48. Got scammed at the Pemex outside the airport at San Jose del Cabo…this airport most people use to reach Cabo San Lucas. They pulled two scams at once….the 500- 50 peso switch and the charge twice as much as the fuel is worth….I caught him and called him out on the 500/50 switch no suggested we discuss matters with the police or the Federales….at which point the guy relented and suddenly decided that no more money was required. The second scam became evident as I was driving away and did the math on peso dollar exchange rate and figured out I had paid 75 bucks US to fill up a car with a 15 gallon tank. Either the pump wasn’t cancelled or it was the special “gringo pump” for tourists. Thanks Pemex, with all the folks looking for work in Mexico, one would think the tolerance level for this kind of action would be lower. Profeco here I come.

  49. La Gas, Tulum attendant attempted a couple scams on my fill up. Upon my request to “fill the tank”, he fueled the car until the pump read 485 pesos. I indicated that I would pay him in U.S. dollars. He used a hand-held calculator to show me that I owed $53 U.S. (an exchange rate of 9.15 pesos/dollar) – scam one. I didn’t challenge this adept mathematician, I mean magician, instead I paid him the $53 (two $20, a $10, and three $1). My mistake was handing him it in a stack. As I turned to walk back to my car, I noticed him slip a $20 off the bottom and into his pocket – scam two. Then he called to me and started counting it out. I abruptly stopped him and said, “I saw you stick that $20 in your pocket.” What I did not see is that he had also added a $1 to the stack, and when I called him out. He explained that I gave him $1 too much. He got me on the exchange but I caught him in part of the scam. La Gas attendants in Tulum are just as devious as Pemex attendants. Watch em all.

  50. I didn’t read the comments here and I didn’t know about this because I had never been scammed at a gas station before but they got me. First, they zeroed out the gauge and then charged me three times the actual gas I needed. Then they swapped one of my $20’s for a $1. They made $45 on their scam. They belong in jail, not at a gas station stealing from people. They are a disgrace to their country and they make me not want to rent cars in Mexico anymore. This is my first time filling up in Mexico. Now I know. The address was: México 307, Quintana Roo, Mexico

  51. I have never been rolled in Mexico Luke what happened tonight in San Jose del cabo. We pulled in and they were scrambling to get us to pull in their lane. I needed to top off my Kia Forte. It was on 1/2 tank. It is a 50 liter tank. The attendent started rapid fire questions-boom, boom, boom he asked in succession, not waiting for answers. The all of a sudden he is gone and another guy is saying my bill is 810 Pecos, or about 43 liters. Then sad they would not take Visa. There are now 3 surrounding me, confusing the whole situation. They is no liter gauge on the pump, only total sale and price per liter that I could see. They finally took the card and it was over and then I had that horrible feeling that I had just been rolled. In disgust, we left. If you pull in and they are all over you, do nothing, ignore them, wear them down. Then very slowly allow only one person to pump the gas while you watch every drop. Don’t fall for the chit chat, and human interest question. They are only trying to distract you.

  52. Arrived to this website after googling for gas station scams. 3rd fill up during our stay in Mexico – first 2 were around Valladolid and went fine – between playa del carmen and akumal, and i got the 500/50 switch. I was not aware of any of these tricks and i was almost sure i gave him a 500 bill. I spent the full morning thinking on that, and now its pretty clear i got scammed. I speak fluent spanish – the guy cleaning the car engaged in a frindly conversation with me and the other one pulled the scam. They said they did not accept cards – probably a lie. I will be aware next time…and i am already boiling just thinking they will try something similar…

  53. just got #1 twice last week. i thought i was going crazy. it happened near the Cancun airport and on the way to Merida.
    just feels a bit reassured reading this 🙂 and the fact that i did give a 500 peso bill.
    they’re fast, beware.

  54. I got hit with the bill switch scam at the OXXO/La Gas in Tulum on June 6th. It was a short fat girl/medium height male team. I verified the pump was zeroed out first, then told him to fill it up (it was close to empty). The girl moved to the front of the car and started asking me questions, like “Do you want me to check your water?” I kept my eye on the pump and chatted with her for a minute, in case she was just being nice, and since I had never been to an OXXO/La Gas pump, maybe it was something they were supposed to ask.

    I heard the pump finish and pulled two 500 peso bills out of my wallet for an 855 peso pump readout. I handed both bills to the male attendant, who pulled the 500/50 bill combo switch and “showed” me that I had given him the wrong amount.

    I started arguing with him, since I knew I didn’t have any 50 peso bills in my wallet and I couldn’t have accidentally given him one. He immediately lost the ability to speak any English and pretended he couldn’t understand any of my spanish. In most cases like this, you go inside and demand to speak with a manager, but I had a flight to catch, not much time and I wasn’t gonna miss it for $22.

    I paid the extra 500 pesos, got my change and told the attendant he was a f-ing thief and some other choice language.

    Anyway, OXXO/La Gas in Tulum is running the bill switch scam. Be aware.

    • Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately it is not just Pemex gas stations. It is all of them.

  55. I got scammed twice during my trip in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

    The first time happened at the PEMEX station at the corner of Avenida CTM and highway 307. First, the pump was not reset, and I was charged for about 50 litres while I only needed 20 litres. After that the guy swapped a 200 pesos bill for a 20 bill.

    The second time happened in Cancun, at the interchange of Punta Nizuc and highway 307. They swapped a 500 pesos bill for a 50 pesos bill.

    This is very frustrating, I would like to understand what PEMEX is doing in order to prevent these scams. It seems so common that it looks like it’s tolerated.

  56. We have traveled to Quintana Roo 13 times, and I would guess I have filled up the car at least 10 times. A couple weeks ago, I had a little celebration as I successfully got filled up at the Pemex on the road between 307 and downtown Puerto Morelos. I was so excited I gave the kid a huge tip for not trying to rip me off. I am asked by everyone here in the states “aren’t you scared in Mexico?”. I always answer that I have stress over three things: Getting ripped off at the car rental counter (everytime); Getting ripped off at the gas station (all but once); and encountering the police. We have had exactly one police encounter (at the highway checkpoint), and it was over in seconds, very pleasant. Pemex could be cured in seconds by having ‘pay at the pump’ self-service like we have in the states. I’m betting these kids are paying the mafia for their jobs to have the chance to fleece tourists. Very embarrassing for the country, and hard for us cheerleaders to defend. It’s a government monopoly business, for pete’s sake. End it.

  57. When I stopped to fill up at the Pemex in Tulum (left hand side of the road) just as you turn on to Highway 307 One person took my credit card. While he was “working” on the credit card, another person tried talking to us in Spanish and asked us to show ID. Neither of us speak Spanish. So we were very confused. By the time we figured something was wrong, the person gave us the credit card back and told us it didn’t work and asked us to pay cash. They charged my credit card for $101.00. I’m not sure who regulates these gas stations (if there is a regulatory agency) but eventually they will get what’s coming for them…Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte Have fun with that ….you deserve everything “she” will be cursing you with!!

  58. Picked up a rental car from America rental in Playa del Carmen October 2018, returned to Cancun after almost 1,000 km trip to Uxmal and Merida. Stopped for gas at three different brands of stations with absolutely no problems whatsoever during trip. (1) Seemed that only the outside (closest to street) gas lane was mandatory full service. I always parked 2-3 lanes over and pumped my own gas, every time, without waiting for any assistance. Attendant would come over and collect payment at end, was never scammed. (2) I only paid with 100 or 200 peso notes, always handing over notes one at a time, counting out loud as I went. Was always given correct change if required. (3) No attendant ever tried to check air, oil level, etc. They were always courteous, friendly, young guys who seemed to give me distance once they saw I was helping myself. (4) I tried to find busy gas stations with taxis (locals) as I figured would have least time to try to scam. I noticed that many or most taxi drivers also pumped their own gas.

    Car rental went off without a hitch. Made sure car had fuel cap, car jack, spare tire and tire tools or would be charged at end. I noted all damage with fine-toothed comb at check-out, car return in Cancun was very easy, no issues. I bought all necessary insurance, figuring that I did not want to explain American Express policy to police if I did get into an accident.

    • Hello Philip

      Sounds like you are an educated traveler and had good luck with the gas stations. That is very good you looked over your rental car. We have a whole other article about that as well to assist people.

  59. I traveled in Baja for months, and got short-changed almost every transaction. Not just gas. I bought dinner, $60 pesos, offered $200 peso bill, got $1 peso change. I had to argue long time to get correct change. I warn all tourists about such businesses. In the long run it will cost them more than they scam.

  60. After reading this article, and beating myself up over it for the last 2 days I realize that I am one of so many that have got scammed by these thieves. I watched him zero the pump and but in 700 pesos into my rental
    VW Vento which would be about right, pump clicked and he told me to check my fuel gauge when I looked back pump was at 1050, bugging me for 2 days how he did it. I think he changed what pump was displaying. So off
    balance with this happening that I fell for the switch bill scam, altogether ripped off for nearly 800 pesos. This happened at the Pemex in San Jose del cabo that is on HWY#1 left side just after the round about
    by LaComer store going north

  61. I was scammed twice at Pemex’s around Cancun, on the road to Chichen Itza from Tulum. First time was the $50 for a $500 note swap, as you outlined. Second time was a few years later, and I had decided to pay by CC. The attendant tried to say he could only take cash, but I didn’t have any pesos (we were leaving that day) and I told him I didn’t have US $s, because I knew he’d get me on the exchange. So I gave him my card, and he swiped it. I signed, then he tried to get a receipt, but woops, something went wrong with that transaction, the card reader lost the connection. I argued for a while, but we were heading for a flight. He wandered around outside the station, trying to get a “better connection”. Finally he got the reader to “work” again, and ran my card again. Sure as hell, when I got home there were two charges on the card. Sometimes, even knowing what they are up to, the argument to stop it is the hardest part. BTW, as you say, it’s been my experience that the most likely you are to get scammed is near big touristy spots. We filled up several times inland on the Yucatan and never had any trouble.

  62. Pemex station just north of Puerto Morales on 307, on the east side, a few kilometers before the airport exit. We were frazzled having just minutes earlier been pulled over for ‘speeding’, which we weren’t, by Policia Municipal and got suckered into a bribe to get my driver’s license back. Amount of gas supposedly pumped was way more than it should have been. Told us they took credit cards, rejected for four different cards between two different families, all of which worked for the past ten days. Told us it would have to be cash, gave them a twenty and a ten, as I went to get in the car, he said ‘amigo’, and proceeded to show me a ten and a one! Wasn’t aware of all these scams until my wife found this website warning travelers of the scams. Too late, unfortunately we got nailed with three of them. Naive gringos we be! Hell of an ending to an otherwise wonderful vacation.

  63. Pemex station just north of Puerto Morales on 307, on the east side, a few kilometers before the airport exit March 28th. We were frazzled having just minutes earlier been pulled over for ‘speeding’, which we weren’t, by Policia Municipal and got suckered into a bribe to get my driver’s license back. Consequently we weren’t paying attention and in retrospect what we were charged for gas, correlated to the number of liters, was way more than it should have been. At the time we were told they took credit cards, however upon completion, four different cards were rejected between two different families, all of which worked for the past ten days. I should have been suspect then. He told us it would have to be cash, gave them a twenty and a ten, but as I turned to get in the car, he said ‘amigo’, and proceeded to show me a ten and a one! Wasn’t aware of all these scams until my wife found this website warning travelers of the scams. Too late, unfortunately we got nailed with three of the scams mentioned, now just waiting to see if our credit cards were also compromised. Naive gringos we be! Unfortunate ending to an otherwise wonderful vacation.

  64. Someone just tried scam #1 on us. Switching a 500 for a 50 at the Pemex in Tulum. April 27th, 2019. I took the 500 out of his pocket (where he tried to hide it) and threw it at him and drove away.

  65. I just visited 6 gas station in Cancun Hotel/ Airport area and none are accepting credit card. They are all showing me to go to an ATM and get cash. All the attendance are equipped with credit card machine but none refusing to take card. Such in acceptable when the entire area running in tourist money and they are treating their guest with scam. Shame on Mexican government and local authority. No wonder you guys can never be equal to US.

    • Your comments about gas stations not accepting credit cards is fairly common. It is bad business practice and a shame that this happens. However, there are crime and scammers in every country and it is not about being equal or greater that other countries. Each country has it’s problems.

  66. I was scammed yesterday at the Pemex traveling North on 307 just past the Airport exit. I do not think this is on your list of scams though some of the elements are. I gave the attendant a Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit to pay for the gas. He said the card was declined. I gave him a different credit card which was also declined. Eventually I paid cash. When I was at the airport I noticed that my Chase Sapphire card, was not mine but was someone else’s. I have no idea how they happened to have a similar card to mine available and then they were able to switch it without me noticing. There were no gas charges on either credit card, but they attempted to charge hundreds of dollars on my card for the rest of the day, most of which were declined by Chase. My account was cancelled and I will get a new card, but it is just very sad that Pemex permits these kinds of scams.

    • Thanks for your comments. This is a new one, although even at restaurants we think about this switch being pulled.

  67. So they pump the gas and pull the pump out and their buddy hits a switch on the side of the pump that clicked to a new amount. In front of my eyes it went from 310 to 610. They demanded 610. We hand a standoff then they adjusted it to 310. I paid 510 (no change) and they offered me 50 back. Another standoff. I got my 200 and he held out his hand for a tip. Pemex by SJD airport. March 2019. Absolute crooks.

  68. I have just been scammed twice in one go. I am thinking of going back and hitting the culprits. Pemex know this is happening and they should sack people. It has really upset us and we will not return to Mexico.
    The scams, rental car, please fill up. Watched it started at zero and got to 295 when it shut off. He clicked it again the check it was full and a guy behind asked me a question. When I turned back it had gone from 305 to 455. I took a 500 out of my wallet and turned to tell my wife we had been scammed and the guy said I had only given him 50, holding a 50 in his hand. What to do? I checked my wLlet and knew I had given him 500 but all of a sudden they did not speak English. I left wTching the smiles on their faces and think I should go back and wipe them off . Mexican bastards.

  69. The gas stations in Cabo are pretty bad–and they’re worse the closer you are to the Marina. In that area, you have to constantly look out for scams.

  70. Thank you for this post. No 1 happened to me in June 2019. After returning after 5 min to confront the employee, they cheerfully returned back the M$ 500 bill. It felt like not just the scam but also the friendly resolution was a daily occurrence.

  71. I was recently scammed at this exact gas station in Tulum. I used my credit card and they said it declined, so I gave them another and it went throught. Both cards were charged and but for different amounts due to the exchange rate…I informed my bank cards and the gas station showed a signed copy of a receipt saying I made the purchase. The signature looks nothing like my hand writing and I never received the type of receipt that they provided as evidence. My bank is now trying to have me pay for both transactions. I have informed them I don’t mind paying for one, but I’m not paying for both transactions. 4 months later and I am still dealing with this issue.

    • Thank you Angela for telling us about this. Every time someone tells what happens it can let others know to look out for and maybe at some point, Pemex will be more responsible for the actions at the stations.

  72. Maybe I’ll point out the denomination of the bill, snap a photo, and then hand it to the attendant. I hate getting scammed.

  73. Hi Guys,

    I just wanted to let you know that this scam is unfortunately still running at the PEMEX outside of Cancun Airport. Similar to many people on this forum, my wife and I arrived at the gas station, I purchased $30 USD of gas and handed over my Amex which I was informed: “was declined”. I found that quite strange because I’d been using it all week in Tulum without issues. The gas station attendant then proceeded to try running 4 other cards. After all my cards were “delined”, he ran my Amex again and the transaction was finally accepted. When he was running my Chase Debit card, I noticed that he put the machine above the car roof (outside of my view). Not seeing the machine and my card raised my suspicion. When I returned home, I checked my Chase debit and sure enough, there was a $300+ USD fraudulent transaction on the account from Cancun (where I only purchased gas).

    Please stay away from this gas station at all costs and spread the word about their fraudulent activities!

  74. Thank you so much for this article! I googled “How to fill up your gas tank in Mexico” and read this article right before driving to the gas station in Cabo. I was slightly wary of pumping my gas in Mexico because my boyfriend was scammed once in Tulum. This time I was traveling by myself so wanted to be prepared.

    Thank God I was. When I went to the gas station I only had a credit card (I legitimately had no US or Mexican cash). The attendant said they didn’t except credit cards, which I knew was bullshit because it was a modern Pemex on the tourist corridor in Cabo. So I told her (in my bad Spanish) that I only had a credit card and wanted the tank filled.

    She said OK. A male attendant then came to wash the windshield. I got out of the car and said “no thanks, I don’t have any cash to tip you.” He stopped cleaning my windshield and I watched him like a hawk as he started pumping my gas. The female attended got right in my face and was super chatty asking in Spanish where I’m from and other things that I no comprehende. I realized that she was trying to distract me so I looked over at the pump and the man was purposefully blocking the numbers with his body. I said loudly, “I CAN’T SEE!” So she told the male attendant to move and sheepishly smiled at me. She knew that I knew what they were trying to do…. Signed my credit card receipt, drove off with a full tank for the right amount, and I think I avoided any scam!!! 🙂

  75. Just got scammed yesterday. Don’t speak hardly any Spanish and have a bad taste in my mouth now after reading this article and all the comments. Are there no penalties whatsoever for these bastards to try anything they want at any time? Is there nothing they can do that would get them in trouble with whatever “law” exists in Mexico?

  76. I’ve started taking pics with my cell phone of me handing over the bills (or someone else in my party does it), stops the switch. Still need to careful with everything else, I don’t chit chat and get out and watch the pump like a hawk. To me getting gas is the most stressful part of the trip.

  77. These are all good tips for things to look out for. I have had my fair of experiences at a Pemex gas station with attendants trying to switch money on me.

  78. Your article doesn’t mention the “gringo/tourist button.” We recently rented a car in Playa Del Carmen (Jan 10-17). We were subject to possibly a double scam at the Pemex station on Avenue Constituyentes by Highway 307, down the block from the Hilton and Wyndham.

    We needed to fill up because we were going to Chichen Itza, and he pumped $830 (might not have zeroed)(I was in the passenger seat and quickly did the math ~$5.13/gal); when he thought we weren’t looking, he pressed a button that changed the $830 to $1,255 (and the ~36 liters disappeared) and the pump just showed a price. We told him we saw the pump state $830, and that was all we would pay. We had more than enough pesos to pay.

    Always have more than you think you will need, at a 17 exchange rate per US dollar $600 pesos is only $35 US Dollars.

    • We have not heard or seen any “buttons” but there cerntainly are a lot of scams and new ones come all the time. If we can confirm this, we will. Depending on your car size and how empty your tank was, it can be easy 900 pesos for a small car to fill up. In your case, it is good to ask for a receipt.

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