NYC Scams 101: Don't Get Fooled by the Food Cart Overcharging Scam

Byuing-Hot-Dog-At-Battery-Park
Byuing-Hot-Dog-At-Battery-Park
Photo: Vsual_prod

New York City is famous for its food carts, and while most carts operate on the up-and-up, some carts in tourist-heavy areas like to try and scam a little extra money off the top for standard items. Here's how it works:

  1. The food truck vendor (the scammer) identifies foreign tourists (the target) that have limited English, and perhaps a confusion on currency exchange rates.
  2. The scammer will hide their legally-mandated price list in order to keep the real price of the food items hidden from view.
  3. The scammer will take the order, then charge way too much for the item.
  4. The clueless target will pay for the item, unaware that they are being overcharged.

This happens all the time in tourist heavy places like Times Square and Battery Park. A few years, back, a hot dog vendor was busted charging $30 for a hot dog and drink. You can easily identify a shady vendor if they have an obscured, or missing price list.

If you see this scam happening, flag down a cop or call 311 to report the vendor, and see if you can help the tourists from getting overcharged by warning them before they pay for the items.

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