Tourist scam in Santiago, Chile

Traveling to Chile? Be careful with this tourist scam in Santiago

Santiago is a big city and is quite safe for Latin American standards. But, like many other big cities, you should have extra care with this tourist scam in Santiago that is totally new for me.

“En su propia trampa” (In your own trap) is a Chilean investigative journalism TV show based on the English program The Real Hustle where they uncover scammers, pedophiles, con artists, etc. On their 16th episode aired on 15th Sunday 2017, they discovered a band of scammers operating nearby the Santa Lucía hill in downtown Santiago, a place visited by more than half a million tourists every year.

In the show, the leader of the gang Edison Andrés Castro is shown approaching foreigners. In very basic English he explains to them that university in Chile is private and expensive (which is actually not far from reality).

Then he gives the foreign visitors a poem and asks them for a donation for his university studies. He is 45 years old but he is charismatic and very persistent. The trick is to take advantage of the fact that foreigners don’t seem to know how much the currency exchange is.

His accomplices shown in the program are another Chilean middle-age man named Miguel García who claims to be an engineering student and a middle-age woman —not identified in the program— that claims to be a medical student. They both ask for donatives as well.

When Edison Andrés Castro is approached by the journalist Emilio Sutherland, he just excuses himself saying than he needs the money.

Local authorities have placed signs (in English and Spanish) in the Santa Lucía nearby area to alert foreigners about this practice.

You can check the episode HERE.

Edison Andrés Castro
Miguel García, the accomplice.
The other accomplice. It’s believed that there are more people involved in this scam.