Scam Artists Targeting Asian Tourists in Wine-Bottle Ruse, Police Warn
MIDTOWN — They break it, you buy it.
Tourist-targeting scam artists have started going BYOB, police warn, bumping into pedestrians, dropping purportedly pricey bottles of wine to shatter on the sidewalk, then demanding compensation.
"They drop it and they got a receipt and they say, 'You broke my wine bottle. Give me $60!'" he said at a recent precinct community council meeting.
"It happens to the tourists, particularly they seem to pick on Asians," Beaudette said. "I don't know why. Nine out of 10 are young Asian men."
The ruse — a twist on the well-worn scheme of bumping into tourists and dropping a pair of glasses — has remained "sort of isolated," police said. It reappears periodically in Midtown and other tourist-heavy neighborhoods, especially when a recidivist scam-artist is released from prison, they added.
The perpetrators also sometimes use bottles of vodka, replacing the alcohol with water, cops said. Since even moderate wines are far more expensive than top-shelf liquors — meaning suspects can demand more money when they shatter the bottles — wines are more often used as props in the acts.
"It's not a huge, huge problem," a law enforcement source said, adding, "If you say it's a scam, if you know it's a scam, they're only going to push you so hard."
The incidents are under investigation.