Contributed Story: The Pigeon Poop Scam in BA

This story’s from an American who visited Buenos Aires with his Spanish-speaking wife:

It’s a bright Saturday afternoon in December 2007. We were walking along a side street on the way back to our hotel — only a few blocks off the Ave. Julio 9. Not many people around.

My wife walked a few steps ahead because of the narrow sidewalks. Suddenly, we feel moisture rained from above. Just as suddenly two people appear, a man and woman in their early 30s. They explain we’ve been bombed by pigeons. From their pockets they pull handfuls of napkins and wipe the stuff off us.

We realize this is fishy. My wife spots the guy wiping my shoulders reach into my back pocket with his other hand (I never felt it). She tells them we’re fine and to leave us alone. They’re surprised she speaks Spanish and the sharp tone of her voice stops their scam.

We went separate ways. Big nuisance, but it wasn’t threatening. They got nothing because I had my money and passport in my FRONT pocket.

Back at the hotel, the staff tells us, yeah, that’s an old scam on the streets of B.A. and they were probably Peruvians (apparently they consider those pesky Peruvians their main source of minor crimes). Being two older gringos we were prime targets.

Turned out the pigeon poop was actually cheap cooking oil mixed with dirt. According to hotel staff the Peruvians walk behind their marks with plastic ketchup dispensers they use to squirt the “poop” into the air, then fall on their victims. Then they come to “help.”



  1. Yeah, in Argentina it always “the Peruvians”, or “the Paraguayans” that are the source of the petty crime….at least that’s what the local Argentine lore would have you believe, hahaha.


  2. Yes, we are the victim of this scam. They do look like Peruvians,
    short and dark. We guarded our bad pretty well, and there were a lot
    of people watching, they were not able to steal.
    The poop is made of yellow mastard and vinegar. It came off easily.
    For a long time we did not it was a scam, we kept telling people our
    bad experience before the show we were about to watch, had to go
    back to the hotel to change.

    I did wonder that why there was so much poop, must be a giant bird.


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