Tourist traps and scams can and do happen all over the world and each year it seems that the scammers get a little bit smarter. Scams are not always sinister of course, sometimes they can be something simple like bus tour passes through a market on the way, because the guides own the stalls or get commission, other times it can simply be daylight robbery. Scams happen in every major city around the world and New York is no different. We spoke to Jonah Engler, New York resident, about the scams which you should be looking out for if you are heading to the Big Apple.
Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry scam is one of the cheekiest and most brazen that there is. Basically what will happen is that you’ll be walking towards the ferry and a street vendor will offer you tickets for the journey, charging anywhere from $30 and upwards. Naturally you want to make sure that you have a ticket, especially when the vendor tells you that it gets booked up quickly, so you hand over the cash. The catch here is that since 1997, the Staten Island Ferry has been free, so you have just paid a random person for two pieces of worthless paper.
Buy My CD
Many musicians come to New York to get their big break and so they try to market themselves by selling CDs on the street, even in this digital age. What will happen during this scam is that someone will approach you and put headphones on your head, asking you to listen to their CD, whilst you try to get the headphones off, the scammer puts their CD in your hand and demands payment As you say no to this, the scammer becomes more aggressive and sometimes so ‘friends’ arrive. Under fear and duress, you hand over 10 bucks and walk away with a CD you didn’t want, which probably has no music on it. Avoid this by simply being aware, walk purposefully and quickly if you suspect someone is coming near you.
Scammers are not always shady characters on the street, sometimes they can take the form of big chain restaurants too. In Times Square, restaurants such as Applebees, Red Lobster and Olive Garden have been busted in recent years, for adding gratuity onto the bill, something which usually only happens with big groups, and will always be spoken about by the server. What happens here is that you unknowingly tip twice, once is already on the bill and the other is what you ask to add on. You should always check your bills anyway, but even more so in restaurants like this, who may try to add some sneaky gratuity onto your bill before you have even realized it.
Be on your guard and be aware of what scams are in place, do this and you should be absolutely fine.