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Las Vegas and New York scam catches tourists and travelers

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While there are plenty of honest street performers out there, unfortunately there are scam artists out there catching unsuspecting Australian tourists overseas.

Unaware tourists have reported being charged exorbitant prices for having their photos taken with artists in popular cities such as Las Vegas, Paris and New York.

Some harass tourists, deceive them or go further, even snatching the phone from their hands, refusing to return it until they take a picture with them and give payment.

Stories of these underhanded tactics came to light when a traveler posed a question to a popular women’s travel group: “In Las Vegas. I went to the strip the other day and my boyfriend took a picture with some of the Vegas Showgirls who were on the sidewalk,” she wrote.

Showgirls holding a tip jar.
Vegas Strip showgirls have been known to get aggressive when they think a tourist should give them more money to take a picture.
Shutterstock

“Before the picture was taken they said we were working for tips and yes of course. After taking a picture he handed them $5. The girl said they wanted $40 each…for a photo Did I go out to lunch?

“What is proper advice for street performers on the strip/freemont for a photo?”

She also expressed her surprise at the brutality of the people: “They were still quite aggressive. I almost snatched the wallet out of my boyfriend’s hands when he pulled it out.

There were a lot of answers to his question, and it turns out that a lot of tourists have experienced the same thing.

One replied, “We had something similar in New York. The characters stopped us, took my husband’s phone from his hand, took a picture of my son with them, then refused to return his phone until we paid them.

Characters in the square of time.
“These photos are some of the worst scrambles I’ve seen while traveling.”
Getty Images

And another said her child had been targeted: “One of those class acts tried this and inappropriately grabbed my young child to convince us to take a picture. Stay away from them. They have no borders!”

While a third commented: “Eek. Just avoid them like the plague. They have people like that everywhere and in some places they will refuse to return your camera/phone if they took the picture. Scam.”

And a fourth said: “Of course they don’t tell you what they ‘charge’ until you’ve taken a picture, ha! Total scam, it’s so sordid.

Meanwhile, another wrote, “$40 each?! As someone else said, if they needed it that much, you had to know in advance! Crooks everywhere!”

Several stories have also emerged of similar scams in New York.

Characters taking photos with children in Times Square.
Characters around Time Square will jump for pictures with other characters to demand more money from unsuspecting tourists.
Shutterstock

“I had an equally horrific experience in New York at Times Square,” said one traveler. “I stopped for my daughter to take a picture with one of the many costumed characters walking around.

“About eight of them jumped into the picture and they all demanded money. I handed the one I agreed to a picture with a dollar and told the others where to go. Those pictures are some of the worst jostling I’ve seen on a trip.

Another had a similar experience in the Big Apple: “I had the exact same experience in New York, my son wanted to take a picture with Spider-Man and I had $5 ready to give him because I understand that it’s their scramble and then a bunch of other characters jumped in.

“I grabbed my kid and left as they muttered c–p under their breath…and left.”

Showgirls in Times Square.
As cities around the world become more populated, these scams are likely to appear.
AFP via Getty Images

Finally, there’s another trick some performers use in some cities, including Nashville, USA, where they throw snakes at you.

“It’s quite easy to get away from showgirls and other prostitutes,” commented one tourist. “Imagine a person on the street who has snakes and tries to throw one on your neck while you run away and then waits for money.

“Yeah, they’ll do anything to pass anyway. Boring as hell and amazed at how many parents would encourage their very young children to take pictures with the showgirls.

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New York Post

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