Beware! Common Tourist Scams I Found in NYC

New York City is a fantastic place to explore and eat, but you will likely come across scammers targeting tourists.

So, let’s break down the most common scams to help you travel safely and enjoy your time in the Big Apple.

1. The Disney Characters Scam

In this video, I catch street performers holding a little girl’s phone hostage!

As you wander through Times Square, you might encounter talented street performers captivating the crowd. But beware of the various thugs dressed up as movie and Disney characters!

They might offer to take a photo with you, but here’s the twist: after the snap, they demand payment.

They will even hold your, or worse, your child’s, phone hostage until you pay them!

I didn’t expect to see this the second I entered Times Square and turned on my camera!

2. The Fake Monk Scam

You might encounter people dressed as monks offering small tokens like beads or bracelets. They seem friendly and might talk about a religious cause, like building a temple in Taiwan.

Here’s the catch: these are fake monks, and they’ll ask for a donation.

Real monks usually don’t approach strangers on the street asking for money.

Politely decline and keep walking to avoid getting caught in this scam.

3. The Fake Rapper Scam

See the friendly rapper scam in action.

Imagine someone hands you a CD claiming to be a talented artist giving away their music for free. Once you take it, they insist on payment, calling it a donation or a purchase.

This is a classic CD scam. These days, they just hand you a QR code and expect payment!

They’re literally selling you a QR code, which is just a link to an album on Apple Music. It’s not an album download that you can keep. Without an Apple Music subscription, you can only listen to samples of the songs. The tourist gets nothing, and they probably feel pressured into tipping.

To avoid it, be cautious when offered free items on the street. Politely decline, as accepting might lead to an uncomfortable situation.

4. The Overpriced Souvenir Trap

You’re excited to grab some NYC souvenirs in Times Square, but be careful.

Some vendors might overcharge you for items like “I Love NY” shirts or tiny Statue of Liberty replicas.

Do a quick check online to know the usual prices so you don’t pay way more than you should.

5. Fake Broadway Tickets

Planning to catch a Broadway show or visit a famous museum?

Be wary of fake ticket sellers around popular venues.

Stick to buying tickets from authorized vendors, official websites, or directly from the venue to avoid ending up with fake tickets and a disappointed heart.

Every time I go to New York, I get all my Broadway tickets from the TKTS booth below the big seating at one end of Times Square. They’re usually 30-50% discounted.

6. The ‘Helpful’ Stranger Scam

New Yorkers are known for their hustle, but some may use it to their advantage. If someone seems too eager to help with directions, be cautious. They might lead you to a shady spot. Trust official maps, apps, or information centres instead of relying on random strangers.

7. ATM Card Skimming

If you need cash, and you find an ATM. Be careful!

Scammers may install devices on ATMs to capture your card information. Use ATMs in well-lit, secure areas, and cover your PIN when entering it.

The fake card readers are pretty hard to spot, so if you’re not sure, don’t use the machine, or you can try yanking it a little to see if a fake reader comes out easily.

Keep an eye on your bank statements for any suspicious activity.

In a nutshell, while exploring the fantastic sights of NYC, stay alert to these common scams.

Use your street smarts, trust your instincts, and enjoy the city safely.

Please leave a comment if this post helped you.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

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