NYC Scams 101: Don't Get Fooled by the "Broken Bottle" Scam

Broken bottles
Broken bottles
Photo: adam h cowdin

The "Broken Bottle" scam is one of the oldest in New York City, but it continues to fool tourists and even locals due to how easy it is to pull off, preying on the compassionate nature or guilty conscious of its victims. Here's how it works.

  1. Scammer will purchase a glass vase, bottle, or something inexpensive that can be broken easily.
  2. A victim walking on the street is identified, usually someone who is staring at their phone, sight seeing, turned around, or otherwise distracted.
  3. The scammer will allow the distracted victim to bump into them, and they will drop the glass object causing it to shatter.
  4. The scammer then blames the victim for breaking their priceless, irreplaceable item and asks for a solution, or demands payment from the victim.

The scammer will change the story of what the object was depending on the victim chosen. It may be a priceless vase left to them by their dying grandfather, a glass jar full of Fluffy's remains, or a bottle full of medicine which is now on the City streets. They will usually wait for the victim to offer money, but will get angry and demand cash if the idea of compensation doesn't present itself naturally.

If you see this happening, please step in and stop it, saying you will call the police to help settle the matter. If you are a targeted victim, say the same thing and don't fall for the "Broken Bottle" scam.

Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Editor in Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's with his partner and son. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time eating, running, and working on cool stuff.

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