Bruised and bloodied scam victim who fell for elaborate but fake coffee plot in Mexico run by Aussie expats warns others ‘trust no-one’ as she hides in her hotel room with painful injuries
- – Sydney woman claimed she was scammed in Mexico
- – She hoped to do a business deal with Aussie expats
- – Instead, she was abused and in a ‘hostage situation’
- – Woman now stranded in Mexico City hoping to go home
A Sydney woman has claimed she was left bruised and bloodied after falling victim to an elaborate property scam involving two Australian expats living in Mexico.
Mary, who asked to go by the fake name for fear of retribution, told Daily Mail Australia she was currently stranded in Mexico City after her proposed property deal in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca turned sour in December.
Mary, 55, hopes to get back to Australia ‘as soon as possible’ but said she was ‘too scared’ to leave her hotel room in the country’s capital.
The Australian woman, who is still battered and traumatised from the encounter, had a warning for anyone else considering getting into business with people overseas.
‘Trust no one,’ she said.
Mary said it was a mutual friend that introduced her to the Australian expat couple, living in Oaxaca, ‘about a year ago’.
The couple told her they had been living in Mexico for two-and-a-half years and proposed a business deal involving a ‘sustainable property’ and coffee cultivation in Oaxaca – a state in the southwest of Mexico.
The trio spoke for months, with the couple eventually gaining Mary’s trust over a year of back and forth communications about the business venture.
Mary, who previously spent seven years in France, had been wanting to move overseas for some time and felt she was ready for ‘another adventure’.
But when Mary arrived in Mexico on December 28, things took a dramatic turn.
Mary said she and a French woman, who had also arrived in the country to join in on the so-called deal, had an online meeting with the couple, which was when things ‘started to unravel’.
Mary – who has a background working in the legal sector – and her French counterpart had put together a series of legal questions for the couple to ensure the deal was legitimate.
But the couple could not answer ’95 per cent’ of the questions, according to Mary, raising alarm bells for her and the French woman.
She said there were gaps in their story about the property, which Mary said was actually ‘communal land’ and the couple were ‘very pushy’ for her to hand over money.
Mary said when she arrived at the couple’s house, they went ‘feral’.
She claims the woman took her bag with her passport and phone and ‘dumped’ her in a a nearby hostel, telling her she would get her belongings back when she was taken to other accommodation.
Mary claims the woman drove her to the hostel in a van and did not talk to her for the duration of the journey.
Getting increasingly worried for her safety, Mary said she considered rolling out of the moving vehicle to get away.
In a strange town where she had ‘no bearings’ and could not speak Spanish, Mary said she felt like she was in a ‘hostage situation’.
She felt ‘vulnerable’ due to the remoteness of the location, which she said was ’30 minutes from the town centre’.
Her altercation with the woman at the nearby hostel, where Mary claims she was physically restrained, left her with bruises to her arm.
But that was only the start of her injuries.
Mary said when she screamed for the woman to give her passport back, the woman got in the van to drive off.
Fearing being left in another country without her passport, Mary said she stood in front of the van, believing the woman would not dare run her over, but said the woman drove into her, causing ‘bruising and scratching’.
She said the woman then told her ‘this is Mexico, there are no laws here’.
Mary fortunately had a spare mobile phone with her, although most of the correspondence with the couple was on her primary phone, which she still has not gotten back.
She managed to get the attention of a local family on the street and through an interpreter was able to make a police report.
Still in shock, Mary said she immediately left the hostel because she feared the couple knowing her whereabouts.
‘There was a clear link between the woman and the hostel,’ she said.
The local family collected her belongings from the hostel and took her to a hotel in the town.
Mary said the Australian couple then began an ‘extortion campaign’, demanding via email that she pay them a year’s rent or they would contact police for supposed ‘damage’ to their car.
Mary believes the couple had ‘hacked’ her phone, claiming the couple’s two sons are ‘professional hackers’ who spent all day at their computers.
She said she was worried for other Australians who may be lured by the attractive overseas investment and the ‘very disturbing’ fact the scammers were Australian.
Her advice to others who may find themselves involved with overseas deals organised online was to ‘make sure you have your own accommodation’.
‘In a place like Mexico, there are many scams. Don’t trust anyone,’ she said.
‘If you think someone is “on your side” because they happen to be Australian, think again.’
She felt she had been ‘groomed’ for the year she was in contact with the couple.
She said the husband, with whom she had primarily engaged with, had appeared to be ‘kind and understanding’.
‘I thought we had the same values, that we were all on the same page,’ she said.
‘I’m not stupid but I feel stupid,’ she said.
Mary said she considers herself intelligent and ‘not easily fooled’.
‘I’m not stupid but I feel stupid,’ she said.
Lawyer Tony Taouk, who is working with Mary on her legal case, has contacted the Australian Embassy in Mexico and requested an investigation but he does ‘not expect Mexican police to ‘zealously pursue this case’.
‘Mexican police are infamous for their corruption and poor policing,’ he said.
Mr Taouk said he reported the couple to DFAT and has questions about potential legal ramifications given they are Australian citizens.
Mr Taouk expects his client will return to Australia ‘shortly’.
Australian government website Smarttraveller warns anyone considering working overseas should ‘do [their] research first’.
‘Make sure the person and their organisation are legitimate. Make sure the job they’re offering you is legal,’ it says.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia they had ‘provided consular advice to an Australian woman in Mexico’ but were unable to provide further details due to privacy obligations.
Australia’s esafety Commissioner warned on their website Australians ‘should not be embarrassed’ if they have fallen for an online scam.
‘Hundreds of thousands of very intelligent Australians are scammed every year. It shows that we are still a trusting society,’ the website reads.
‘Report scams to your local consumer affairs agency, Scamwatch or Australian Cyber Security Centre to help warn others and help have the scammers tracked down.’
Source: Daily Mail