Top 5 Scams in New York and How to Avoid Them

Are you planning for your business trip to New York in the near future? If so, you may want to be careful. It’s a tourist destination and there are scams to be aware of. Read on to discover five of the most popular type of scams.

New York is full of opportunity and as the song (and state slogan) goes: “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York, New York”. While many are working hard to make their dreams come true, there are some who prefer to scam people out of their hard-earned cash. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist or a local, on a business trip or a leisure one, there are people out there who want to trick you out of your money.

Times Square, Manhattan, NYC

Some of these scams are small-time while some of them can be quite devastating. It can even be bad enough that your best option is to get a private investigator in New York to help you find and recover your money.

And while many New Yorkers are nice people, it still pays to be on guard. Whether you’re a wide-eyed tourist or a seasoned local, here are some scams that you’ll want to be aware of so that you can avoid them:

Rental Listing Scam

Living in New York can be expensive and many people are hoping on getting a good price on a rental unit. This scam involves criminals posing as real-estate agents making a false listing on a third party website. They’ll then charge you or ask for advance payment even if they don’t own the listing. They can say that they are out of town and will send the key once they receive payment, even though you’ve never even viewed the apartment. To avoid this scam, always insist on viewing the apartment and checking documentation before you send any money to the real estate agent.

Fake Tickets

There have been many reports of people buying fake tickets, often for exorbitant prices. Fake tickets have been sold for hit Broadway productions, Metro Cards, and in some cases for the Staten Island ferry (the ferry is actually free). Only buy tickets from authorized sellers at the box office or official online website. Never buy tickets from street sellers – even if they wear vests or uniforms that they’re “authorized sellers”.

Costumed Character Photo Op

You’ll often see costumed performers in Times Square trying to make a living from tips made posing with you. While the photo is free, a tip is often expected at around $5. Not bad if you are really interested in getting a souvenir photo taken with a performer. However, the scam involves performers charging more and aggressively hounding tourists for payment – sometimes even having a group threateningly surround a victim. If you’re a tourist, this can sour the Big Apple for you. If you really want the photo, make sure that you have an agreement on how much you’ll give and have that amount ready in your pocket.

Electronic Store Scam

If you’re buying electronics, always be careful of shops that sell refurbished devices as new. Some stores will try to push add-ons or accessories with your purchase. The New York Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) recommends researching all about the gadget before buying it and making sure that the store has a license. You can also get an itemized receipt and review the charges before buying anything.

Immigration Assistance Scam

When looking for legal advice on immigration, be careful who you trust. They may guarantee you citizenship or work visas but it can be a scam. Many service providers (often called “notarios”) can charge exorbitant fees without doing any work or filing an incorrect application (which can result in the client being deported). Only hire or work with an organization accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Other precautions to take are to get a receipt and never pay in cash.


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