By Andrea Romano
October 08, 2019

If a veteran New Yorker like Alec Baldwin can be scammed in his own city, anyone can.

According to the New York Daily News, Baldwin, along with his wife, Hilaria, and their two children were gearing up for a day visiting the Statue of Liberty when they were swindled by a local tour scam.

Baldwin posted about this scam on Instagram, posting a picture of his ticket and explaining how they got taken for a ride. According to his post, Baldwin and his family headed down to South Ferry (where you would typically find a tour to the Statue of Liberty or take the Staten Island Ferry) where they bought $40 tickets for a “boat tour.”

After purchasing the tickets, Baldwin wrote, they were escorted to a shuttle bus that was bound for New Jersey, which was a key fact not mentioned when they bought the ticket. A trip to Liberty Park, New Jersey would take a great deal longer than a typical tour from South Ferry. According to the Daily News, this particular scam takes tourists to New Jersey via the Holland Tunnel, where they board a boat called the “Queen of Hearts,” which will not let people off at Liberty Island in New York Harbor, where the statue is.

Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Scams like this happen every day and the Department of Transportation tries to stop scammers, though it’s a tougher job than you might think. According to the New York Daily News, this particular scam is known by the DOT, which banned the tour company, Freedom Cruises, from Pier 36 in 2018. The DOT frequently sends cease and desist letters to companies like this, and scammers can be spotted advertising their phony tours almost as soon as you step out of the subway and throughout Battery Park.

These tours also charge more than twice it would cost a tourist to buy a ticket from the legitimate boat tour, Statue Cruises, which works with the National Park Service and is actually the only legal tour that will take you to Liberty Island. These scammers not only charge way more, they also bill themselves as one hour tours that actually end up taking upwards of three hours, according to the New York Daily News. Simply search for Statue of Liberty horror stories and you’ll definitely find a lot of tourists who ended up having a terrible time. Most tourists — who don't have the same budgets as Hollywood A-listers — are cheated out of money that they saved up for a trip to the city and will never get it back.

Baldwin concluded in his post that people should take the Staten Island Ferry if they want free views of the Statue, which isn’t bad advice if you’re not concerned about getting off on Liberty Island and climbing to Lady Liberty’s crown.

Still, it’s surprisingly easy to get hustled down near Battery Park, but there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe.

Only book a boat tour through Statue Cruises. They have an exclusive contract to take people to Liberty Island. Prices are between $18.50 and $21.50, and certain ticket types allow you to access different parts of the statue as well as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Tickets are available online, which is really the best way to reserve a spot. There is also a ticket booth inside Castle Clinton.

Stay away from people who are aggressively trying to sell you a tour anywhere near Battery Park, Bowling Green, or elsewhere in Lower Manhattan. These are unauthorized ticket sellers, and they will definitely try any tactic to convince you to go with them.

If you want a free ride, taking the Staten Island Ferry is actually an amazing option. It doesn’t stop at Liberty Island, but it passes right by and gives you a good view either way. All you have to do is follow the signs at South Ferry and climb aboard, since this a free service for commuters in New York. Once you arrive to Staten Island simply catch the next ferry back to Manhattan. Even better, there's a snack bar that serves food, drinks, and alcohol on the boat.