A man dressed as Mickey Mouse is charging tourists to take photos with him for $310 in what seems to be another scam in Times Square.
A 21-year-old man from Tennessee wanted to post with 52-year-old Lester Mengersen, who was in his Mickey costume and agreed to pay $190 for it. However, Mengersen charged the man for $310 on his credit card using a mobile credit card reader.
The man notified the police patrolling the area after 45 minutes upon seeing his balance being charged over than the agreed amount. Mengersen is charged with petty larceny and will appear in court on April 10.
The New York Police Department told Travel and Leisure that this is the first record of a tourist being scammed at Times Square. They advised that visitors in New York City who want to have their photos taken with costumed actors should pay tips in cash basis only, with both parties agreeing on the same amount before taking the picture.
Costumed actors through the years
Last year Minnie Mouse was arrested for harassing tourists for a $20 tip. A mother and her two children alerted a nearby police officer of the troublesome mouse.
Three years ago, a Cookie Monster actor shoved a 2-year-old child on the ground when the man behind the mask quarreled with the mother for a higher tip. Often, the actors defended that they have been receiving threats and ostracism against tourists and passersby.
Mengersen told Newsday that people snubbed him when he was wearing an Elmo costume. The criticism came after the news of sexual abuse charges against Kevin Clash, who voiced Elmo on Sesame Street. He explained that when he bought and used the Mickey Mouse costume, people stopped condemning him.
Costumed actors on Times Square heavily rely on tips as their main source of income. Last spring, the New York City Council proposed an 'activity zone' to control costumed actors on pressuring tourists for tips. The new policy irked performers who defended their profession and lamented that they will lose most of their earnings if they stay in one zone only.
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