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Travel scam catching Australians out in Las Vegas, New York

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While there are many honest street performers out there, unfortunately there are some scammers that are catching unsuspecting Australian tourists out 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, trick them or go further, even snatching the phones out of the hands of their hands, refusing to give it back until they take a photo with them and give payment.

Stories of these sneaky tactics came to light when a traveller aked a question in a popular travel group for women: “In Las Vegas. Went to the strip the other day and my boyfriend got a photo with some of the Vegas Showgirls that were out on the sidewalk,” she wrote.

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

“What’s an appropriate tip for the street performers on the strip/freemont for a photo?”

She also expressed her surprised at how rough the people were: “They were pretty aggressive though. Almost ripped the wallet right from my boyfriends hand’s when he had it out.”

There were many responses to her question, and it turns out that a lot of tourists had experienced the same thing.

One replied: “We had something similar happen while in NYC. Characters stopped us, took my husband’s phone from his hand, snapped a pic of my son with them, then refused to give his phone back until we paid them.”

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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 photograph. Stay far away from them. They have no boundaries!”

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 give your camera/phone back if they’ve taken the photo. Scam.”

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

Meanwhile, another wrote: “$40 each?! Like someone else said, if they required that much it should be known beforehand! Scam artists everywhere!”

Multiple stories also emerged about similar scams in New York.

“I had a similarly awful experience in NYC in Times Square,” a traveller said. “Stopped to have my daughter take a photo with one of the many dresses up characters roaming around.

“About eight of them jumped in the photo and they all demanded money. I handed a dollar to the one I agreed to a photo with and told the rest where to go. These photos things are some of the worst hustles I’ve seen while travelling.”

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

“I grabbed my kid and walked away as they mumbled c–p under their breaths … and walked off.”

Lastly, there’s another trick some performers use in some cities, including Nashville, US, where they throw snakes on you.

“Walking away from show girls and other street walkers is pretty easy,” one tourist commented. “Imagine a street person that has snakes and tries to throw one on your neck while you are running away and then expect money.

“Yeah, they will do anything to anyway walking by. Annoying as heck and amazed how many parents would encourage their very young kids to take pictures with the show girls.”

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