The Staten Island Ferry has taken passengers completely free of charge since the City of New York removed the $0.50 fare in 1997. Most New Yorkers already know this, but many tourists do not, hence, an opportunity for scammers. Here's how the scam works:
- A scammer, perhaps wearing some official-looking vest or badge, approaches a group of ferry-bound tourists near the Manhattan entrance to the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal.
- The scammer says that the group needs tickets to ride the ferry, and that if they don't have them already, they can purchase the tickets from him/her.
- The scammer takes money from the tourists, then hands them official-looking paper tickets and directs the tourist inside the building to continue.
- Once the tourists realize that they do not need tickets, the scammer is long gone with the cash.
How much the scammer asks for varies, and different fake-tickets and fake-uniforms have all been used. Despite a heavy police presence in the area, and signs clearly stating that the ferry is completely free of charge, tourists still fall for this scam all the time, especially if they have poor English skills.
If you are a local and see this happening, flag down one of the patrolling police officers in the area. If you are a tourist, please be aware that the Staten Island Ferry is completely free, at all times of day and night, in both directions.
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