Jun 7, 2010


The concrete jungle that is Manhattan is always bustling with tourists looking up at the sights and Manhattanites looking down to avoid crap. Almost everyone is trying to get somewhere while on a call, checking email, or texting. Well, it seems, some crafty evil-minded people have come up with a little scheme to exploit those who are busily walking these crowded streets.

I write this PSA because I recently, twice, witnessed this swindle. And after doing some research found that it is more prevalent than I thought. The hustle unfolds like this...

Grifters (unsavory characters of ill-intent) pick a street and 'unavoidably' bump into someone who is likely preoccupied. At this point, a personal belonging drops to the ground and promptly cracks/scratches/disintegrates. Following a feint of shock & severe disappointment, the scam artist asks for restitution for the damaged product, stating it was the victim's fault.

In one of the instances I witnessed, fake Gucci sunglasses were used. The unsuspecting victim was shown a crack in the "expensive designer" glasses. Moments later, the scammer asked for monetary reimbursement. In the other instance, the swindler used Perrier bottles. The loud pop from the shattering glass insured that the swindler got the attention of the victim.

It should be emphasized that not all physical contact with personal property damage, are caused by these scam artists. Sometimes, it just happens that the collision was indeed unavoidable. Pure accident. I guess that is why this scheme is so prevalent. How can you prove that the incident was a scam?

Mizhattanites, my MizAdvice is to urge you to make sure that you are always aware of your surroundings. Also, go with your gut feeling. If the walkway is wide yet the person still can't avoid you, then there is something wrong. Humans are very in-tuned to what is an accidental brush and what is a provoked encounter. So trust yourself and be careful. Beautiful sunnies, whether imitations or not, shouldn't be used in this manner.

(Image credit: misscaro-again.}
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