Throughout the world tourists are seen as easy targets for scammers who have come up with a number of creative ways to steal from you or extort you. This is the same in almost every country and big city in the world, and New York is no different. In fat here in New York these scams have been going on for a number of years and despite the efforts of law enforcement, they do still take place. There are many scams here from street vendors forcing you to buy things that you don’t want to people trying to charge you for a ticket to the free Staten Island Ferry. We had a chat with new York resident and tour guide Jonah Engler Silberman, to find out what you should be doing in order to avoid these scams.
First of all you need to be aware of what the common scams are in order to avoid them. You can find out a huge amount of information online about the popular scams that take place in New York, arm yourself with this information before you go. The key to avoiding scams is not to get involved in them in the first place, the only way that you can do this is to be aware of what the scams are before you arrive.
If you are involved in a scam which has taken you by surprise, perhaps a vendor has put something in your hadn’t and they are demanding payment, or someone bumps into you and then claims you have broken something valuable of theirs, and again demands payment, try ignoring it. The key here is to simply pretend that you have no idea what they are talking about, and that you don’t speak English. New York is represented with just about every nationality on Earth, so running into a foreigner who doesn’t speak the lingo is nothing new. The scammer wants the scheme to go quickly and smoothly, so they are unlikely to stay there and try to make you understand what is going on.
Tourists are preyed on more often than locals because they are seen as easy pickings by the scammers. Looking and acting less like a tourist will go a long way to help you avoid the scams that take place. For example if you need to check your map, do so inside a store or away from the street, make sure that you don’t walk around with a camera around your neck, or dressed in the typical ‘tourist fashion’.
Walking around aimlessly looking lost is going to be a green light for any scammer, and they will instantly see you as a target. Be sure then, that you know where you are going, and walk directly and purposefully to your destination. Think of it like a herd of wildebeest, which one does the lion usually pick off? That’s right, the slowest and the weakest of the herd, make sure that you are walking with intent to avoid being picked off.