A variety of scams can entrap the wary and their money

Tuesday judicial police cracked down on fake Cuban cigars.

Now readers are reporting that there are fake U.S. silver dollars making the rounds in the various downtown bars and restaurants.

According to one reader, the coins are made from steel. They resemble old Morgan dollars and in some cases the Peace dollar with the image of Liberty on the face.

That seems to be a new scam in San José. Recently a news article here reported on counterfeit chits that some crooks were using to get free drinks at bars. Casinos pay close attention to their gambling chips for this reason.

Some of the fake coins are supposed to be made in China and pass muster from an untrained eye.

Faking coins are not new. Time was when someone would need the help of a dental lab or other specialized facility to fake coins. The cost was high, so the fakes were supposed to be ancient Roman or Green, and the price was high.

A reader reported that one fake coin was passed to a worker in a hotel with the claim it was worth $20.  Some online ad services have classifieds offering silver coins for $5.

The cigar article prompted an email from a reader who said that such fakes were epidemic even in Cuba. He suggested consulting Internet sources that can help someone determine which cigar is fake and which one is not.

Sometimes the old scam is the best scam.  The Fuerza Pública said Wednesday that officers had detained a man and a women who were suspected of trying to run the aduana scam. The arrests were at Juan Santamaría airport.

The pair were said to have long court records and to be members of a group that regularly practices this scam on the unwary.

The crooks offer goods at a low price because the items are embargoed in the aduana or customs section of the airport. Once they have the money the crooks promise to return with the goods.

Even sophisticated business people have been taken in. Frequently they are contacted by telephone cold calls and asked to meet the crooks at the airport. The product would be something of interest to the business. If the victim balks at the last minute, the crooks resort to strong arm robbery. The pair detained Wednesday have robbery arrests on their records.

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