New York is a fabulous city with so much to explore and discover, and so many iconic attractions to experience. For these reasons the city sees hundreds of thousands of tourists each and every year, all coming to take a bite out of the Big Apple. Unfortunately however, as is always the way, where there are tourists, there are scammers, and you need to be on your guard when you are out and about in the city. To help you avoid the scammers, we spoke to tourist guide Jonah Engler Silberman, on which are the most common scams to watch out for.
It is not uncommon to see Spiderman, Batman and your favorite Disney characters in and around the city, something which instantly draws the kids in. The scam however is that these superheroes will happily take a snap with your kid, and then try to charge an insane amount for the photo, say no, and they have been known to get aggressive and violent.
Staten Island Ferry Rip Off
The Staten Island ferry is a free ferry to all, yet this doesn’t stop scammers on the street appearing as ticket vendors, encouraging you to grab a ticket before it sells out. Tourists unknowingly hand over fees of $30 or more for their ticket, before finding out the truth as they board.
Another scam which people like to use is to pretend to be an artist selling their CDs to get their big break. They will put headphones on you and as you struggle to get them off they’ll put a CD in your hand and demand payment. Refuse paying and a few big boys move closer to you, forcing you to hand over money fro a CD which you didn’t want, and which is probably blank.
A traditional scam which is still happening in various forms, someone bumps into you hard and then claims you broke their glasses and demands payment. Upon refusal the scammer begins to get aggressive and threatening, so the tourist, not wanting to create a scene, hands over money and the scammer moves on to rob another day.
Restaurant Rip Off
Even big chain restaurants are getting in on the scamming act and Applebees, Olive Garden and Red Lobster have had their hands slapped in recent years for adding gratuity to the check. The gratuity is up to you, and if it is added to the check then the server needs to be notifying you from the outset. What happens is that they add the gratuity and then happily accept your additional gratuity when you decide to pay it.
The pedicabs in New York are notorious for drivers who like to charge extortionate fees and offering hidden charges. Once again, upon refusal to pay, the drivers can often become aggressive and force the tourists to pay because they feel threatened.
Be careful when you go to New York, there are lots of scams to watch out for.