NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD busted several ticket scammers Wednesday for selling fakes in Battery Park.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported 14 suspected scammers were arrested following a police raid. It was the result of an undercover investigation on ticket vendors in Battery Park where police were posing as tourists.
“What the investigation revealed was that you had a large number of people who were on parole or probation, mostly parole for serious crimes – assault, narcotics, robbery – who made the bulk of the ticket sellers, which began to explain some of the background, this pattern of criminal activity involved in the ticket sales,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said.
Authorities said this investigation was prompted by many complaints of aggressive ticket vendors. In February, one tourist was knocked unconscious by a vendor for refusing to buy Statue of Liberty passes, but this three-week investigation revealed a larger scam.
Castle Clinton is the only legitimate place in Battery Park to buy Statue of Liberty tickets. Police said scammers were selling tickets to other boats that go around the harbor with the promise they would stop there, but that was a lie.
“So that was the scam, they were selling,” Miller said. “This is what they call under the law fraudulent accosting. You come up to people, you promise things, sell it to them, and it turns out to not be the case.”
Now charged with fraudulent accosting, police said these vendors sold tickets under the pretense that Castle Clinton was all out, which was also a lie.
“We’re exchange students and we have friends here who told us don’t trust people on the street,” Julie Heissenberger of Austria said.
Many tourists in Battery Park said they could have fallen prey.
“I don’t know if you’ll be able to tell if it’s a fake ticket or not,” Annicka Alexander said. “I’m not sure how you would be able to.”
The NYPD said this is part of a larger effort to eliminate a growing quality of life problem in the neighborhood.
In addition to the 14 people arrested, there are warrants for seven more people, who police are still searching for.