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Top 10 New York City Tourist Scams & How To Avoid Them

  • March 14, 2024
  • 3 min read
Top 10 New York City Tourist Scams & How To Avoid Them

New York City, like many major tourist destinations, has its share of scams targeting visitors. Being aware of these common scams can help you navigate the city more safely and enjoy your visit without unnecessary setbacks. Here are some of the most common scams to watch out for:

1. Costumed Characters in Times Square

Individuals dressed as popular characters may offer to take photos with you but then demand payment afterward. It’s best to avoid taking pictures with them unless you’re willing to pay.

2. CD Scam

Artists or individuals may approach you, offering a free CD of their music, then forcefully demand money once you’ve taken it. Politely decline such offers to avoid confrontation.

3. Fake Tickets

Purchasing tickets from unauthorized sellers for attractions, Broadway shows, or sporting events can result in paying for invalid or highly inflated tickets. Always buy tickets from official sources or reputable websites.


4. Street Games

Games like three-card monte or shell games set up on the streets are rigged to lure tourists into betting money with the promise of easy wins. The operator and sometimes accomplices in the crowd are the only winners here.

5. Subway Scams

Be cautious of individuals offering to swipe you through the subway turnstiles using their MetroCard for a fee. This is illegal and can sometimes involve expired or invalid cards. Always purchase your fare from official machines or kiosks.

6. Counterfeit Goods

Street vendors might offer luxury goods or electronics at significantly low prices, but these items are often counterfeit or stolen. Buying such goods can be risky and supports illegal activities.

7. Fake Rental Listings

Tourists looking for short-term rentals may encounter fake listings on certain websites. Always verify the authenticity of a listing through reputable platforms and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

8. Bogus Tour Operators

Some scammers pose as tour operators, offering city tours at a discount. These can end up being overpriced or non-existent. Stick to well-reviewed and established tour companies.

9. Distraction Theft

Thieves work in teams where one person distracts you by asking for directions or causing a scene while another steals your belongings. Always be mindful of your personal items, especially in crowded areas.

10. Charity Scams

Individuals may claim to represent charities and ask for donations. Genuine charity workers should have identification and won’t pressure you for immediate donations. Feel free to research the charity first or donate directly through their official website.

At the end of the day, awareness is key to avoiding scams in New York City. Trust your instincts, and if a situation feels off, it’s okay to walk away. Enjoy the city’s incredible sights, sounds, and experiences with confidence, knowing you’re informed and cautious.

About Author


GreetingsfromAbroad.com is a travel blog founded by keen traveler, writer and experienced digital nomad, Kojo Enoch. Currently Kojo lives on the beautiful, sunny island of Malta. This website is run by a solid team of expert digital nomads,  avid travelers, photographers and writers from all over the world.

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