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Major US tourist attraction targeted by thieves who charge $50 for fake tickets

AN ICONIC American tourist attraction is still being used by scammers to cheat visitors out of their hard-earned money.

Statue City Cruises is the only one authorized to sell tickets to Liberty and Ellis Islands, but tourists pay $50 to the Statue of Liberty scammers.

Tourists visiting New York City are being targeted by fraudsters in a brazen scamCredit: Getty
Greedy and aggressive ticket sellers sell tickets that don’t actually take visitors to the awe-inspiring Statue of LibertyCredit: Getty

The theft comes five years after actor Alec Baldwin complained that he was one of many people duped into thinking he was buying tickets to the monument.

Ticket sellers from other companies often mislead tourists into believing they are booking a ride to the statue.

There have also been complaints about street vendors selling tickets for the Staten Island Ferry, which is free.

The National Park Service (NPS) announced last year that it had selected Statue City Cruises to once again provide an exclusive passenger ferry service after holding the concession contract since 2008.

Statue City Cruises is part of the Hornblower Group, with a portfolio including operations on Alcatraz Island, Niagara Falls and the NYC Ferry.

The new contract has a term of ten years and came into effect on March 1, 2024.

The trip goes from Battery, New York City and Liberty State Park, Jersey City to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

But news has resurfaced of scammers tricking tourists into paying twice as much for tickets.

“Imagine you’re a New Yorker and someone tries to tell you it costs $50 to get into the park,” Matt Gill, captain with Statue City Cruises, told ABC7.

‘Luckily we know better, but unfortunately many people don’t.

“Unfortunately I have to say to them: ‘we didn’t sell you that ticket, it was from an illegal seller in the park’.”

ILLEGAL CARDS

To inform unwitting visitors about the ruse, Statue City Cruises has posted helpful warning signs outside the ticket office.

“Warning, warning of scams. Illegal ticket sellers are selling deceptive tickets that do not allow admission to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island,” the signs warn.

“Illegal ticket sellers cannot ‘upgrade’ Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tickets!”

The broadcaster spoke to two visitors who said they were approached by people they assumed were legitimate vendors at the park entrance.

They were so deceived that they handed over money for tickets that wouldn’t even take them to the monument.

ENFORCEMENT

The seller used printing techniques by falsely claiming that he should have booked three weeks in advance.

But there are other issues that contribute to visitors’ confusion.

Construction work at the site has created a bottleneck for pedestrians, making them feel rushed.

“It’s causing those vendors to try to prey on people in a much smaller location, where it used to be easier to get into the park,” Gill said.

The NPS confirmed that enforcement action is being taken against the fraudsters.

“Park enforcement officers regularly patrol the area and conduct joint detail with the NYPD to ensure compliance and enforcement of park rules,” the department said in a statement last Friday.

I’m not joking. We have paid.

Alec BaldwinFilm star

In 2019, Baldwin posted on Instagram that he and his wife, Hilaria, “two smart, savvy New Yorkers,” had splurged on $40 tickets for themselves and their children for a boat tour of the Statue of Liberty.

Instead, they were escorted to a shuttle bus that took them to New Jersey.

‘I’m not joking. We have paid. Then we read the cards,” Baldwin said.

Banking tips to avoid scams

As scams become more sophisticated through the use of artificial intelligence, it is important that you know how to spot a scam:

  • Be skeptical of online deals that seem too good to be true, especially on social media.
  • Scammers often use tactics to panic you so you can make quick decisions. Be careful if you are asked to take immediate action and verify who contacted you.
  • Chase Bank warns customers to “never give an unexpected refund without calling Chase first.”
  • Never send money to someone you have only spoken to online or on the phone as this is likely a romance scam.
  • Never give anyone remote access to your device unless you know 100% who you are talking to.
  • Never accept help from strangers at an ATM and always be vigilant when withdrawing money.
  • Do not send money or click on links that indicate you have won a prize.

Source: Chase.com

New York City officials at the time vowed to crack down on vendors selling boat tours around the Statue of Liberty, the Associated Press reported.

“The Statue of Liberty is an enduring symbol of America’s promise,” said then-Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Tourists and visitors are being fooled, and that is unacceptable.

“We will not give up until illegal and deceptive practices are a thing of the past.”

OFFICIAL SITE

To purchase tickets in advance, visit StatueCityCruises.com or call 1-877-523-9849 (877-LADY-TIX), the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation website advises.

“Additional tickets are not required to enter the Statue of Liberty Museum or the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.

“Tickets can be purchased in person at the Statue City Cruises ticket counters at Castle Clinton in Battery Park (NYC) or at the ferry departure point at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

“To guarantee admission, it is recommended to purchase tickets in advance.”