2006_05_sobebottle.jpgOne of our most commented-posts was the one about various scams that are pulled on people, especically on susceptible people unused to New York City-style hustle, grifts and cons. And many con artists do like to stalk areas that are flush with tourists and students. So we were pleased that all of the tips and scams our commenters had given us the first time around could benefit other people, such as reader Josh who sent us this email:

So I was hurriedly walking uptown on Broadway from 96th street to make a meeting with a professor--i was already late because they were running the 1 trains express and I decided it would be faster to walk to 116th rather than to go to 145 and then down again, local. As I passed 104th st, there was this couple, looking kind of down and out, he had a suitcase, and they were headed towards this payphone (ahead of me, to my right). As I sped up to pass them, the man bumped into me and dropped the black plastic bag he was carrying in his right hand. As I was on my phone at the time, i kept walking after saying sorry as I passed--it seemed like his fault. But I heard the lady calling, "Excuse me, excuse me!" after me...

I should just have kept walking, but I turned around, hung up, and apologized and offered to pay him for what was in the bag, broken (which looked like a beverage). He said he didn't want my money and that it had this prescription in it and it was gone and he wanted me to walk with him up to this pharmacy....etc. He threw the bag away while flashing a prescription in my face--I remembered where he tossed the bag--and started walking, giving me threatening looks. I kept asking him questions--what was it for, why in the bag, etc--and he wouldn't really reply.

So after a block, I said, you know, I'm happy to pay for it if it is what you claim it is, but I want to see what was in the bag. He assures me that it's fine, that I should just walk east with him to the place, "it's right around the corner" and explain to the guy that "I broke it" and to ask him to replace it. I refuse after he won't tell me the name of the place or what it was he bought, and I walk back to the trash can--the two are now concerned--and I look inside
the two black plastic bags, to find two broken Sobe bottles. I say, "Well, there's some broken beverages here, want me to pay for them?" At this point, the guy says, "I'm just gonna go in this Rite Aid, come after me when you're satisfied and tell the guy here that you broke it." He goes in. The woman says, "They must have emptied the can!" and points to two trash bags nearby. i look in them. nothing. So I say, "Well, do you want money for the beverage, or...?" She looks bewildered and says, wait til he gets out! I say, "Well, OK then, sorry for the trouble," and take off up Broadway.

I had remembered this article on Gothamist when this whole ordeal began.

And, as it fit the description, I pretty much knew I was getting scammed (or set up to be robbed). So I basically went with it long enough to be completely and utterly satisfied that I was in the right and then hauled off. What did I get for my trouble? One cut finger (from rooting in the trash can) and the satisfaction that, while I may look like an easy mark, I knew better and pulled out of it in style.

Thank you, Gothamist!

We offered to send Josh some band-aids and First Aid cream, but he said he had that covered.