Photo: Sarah Funk/Youtube

A Rundown of the Many Ways NYC Tourists Are Scammed in Times Square

New York News
by Olivia Harden Jul 16, 2021

If you’re going to New York City, you’re probably going to stop by Times Square. But Youtuber Sarah Funk, a New Yorker through and through, wants to protect you from all of the scams the popular destination has in store for naive tourists. So she went undercover with a pair of cut-offs, a backpack, and, most importantly, an I heart NYC t-shirt to experience all of the scams in Times Square herself.

You might be surprised to find out that fake monks roam the streets to raise money to build a temple in Chinatown — that’s already built. Funk noticed that the fake monks tend to exaggerate previous donation numbers to encourage other people to fall into the trap. In exchange for the little money she gave to one of them, she got a couple of cheap trinkets.

She also stopped by some guys selling CDs in Times Square that would not let her go until she gave them more money. The Naked Cowboy she took a few photos with wasn’t a scam at all. He’s trademarked his brand and makes $150,000 a year selling photos, producing CDs, and even has licensed performers who tried to infringe on his brand.

The last scam she tested was the people wearing costumes who ask for money for a photograph. She found out that if you even try to take a photo near them, they’ll jump right in so they can make their money. Is this one a scam? Inconclusive, she said.

Funk has a playlist on her Youtube explaining all the ways New York tries to scam you and offers the best alternatives, so you can live like a real New Yorker, even if it’s only for a couple of days.

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