Have you ever been caught in a tourist trap when you have been traveling? It is not a nice experience when it happens and it can be hard to always stay on your guard to avoid these things from happening. Unfortunately however, they can not always be avoided and the best thing that you can do to this end, is to be aware of the types of scams that take place, and making sure that you are vigilant. Scammers exist in every big city in the world and New York is no different. We caught up with tourist guide Jonah Engler to find out what some of the most common scams are here in NYC.
This is an old scam which still seems to be doing the rounds, the broken glasses trick. Basically what happens is that a man or woman will bump into you on the subway or in another crowded area, doing so pretty forcefully. The next thing you will see is them with broken glasses in hand, accusing you of causing it and telling you how expensive the glasses are. Now they will demand money from you, doing so in an aggressive manner that will make you feel threatened. Most tourists don’t want to cause problems in the city that they are visiting, so they hand over cash and move on. The best bet here is to pretend that you don’t speak English, or to simply walk away at speed into a crowded area.
A scam that is catching many people it is that of the pedicab, a small carriage which is pulled by bike, that can take you around the city or to your nearby destination. The drivers of these pedicabs however will be very underhand about their pricing plans, usually trying to change the price of adding additional fees, one tourist couple got hit with a $300 fare for a 10 minute journey. If you want to use the pedicabs, be very careful, agree the fee up front, pay half before and half when you arrive. The drivers can often get aggressive when you don’t agree to pay, so try and stop near a crowded place, or where there are some police officers, should it get out of hand.
Staten Island Ferry
Potentially one of the worst scams that we see in New York is the one linked to the Staten Island ferry. This is a free ferry and it has been since 1997. Despite this however, many tourists do not know that it is free, and this is where the scammers make their money. Appearing on the street as ticket vendors for the ferry, they will charge tourists $30 or more for a ticket “because the ferry will sell out”. Unfortunately many tourists hand their cash over before realizing that they have been duped. The ferry is free, don’t buy tickets from anyone.