Panhandling Fake Monks Have Returned to New York

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In this June 23, 2016 photo, a man who says he is a Buddhist monk hands a medallion to a woman as he solicits donations on New York City's Times Square. Leaders of New York City's Buddhist community said that men in orange robes seeking donations near New York's popular tourist attractions are fakes, posing as monks to trick people into giving up their money. (AP Photo/Michael Balsamo)
Photo: Michael Balsamo/Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu

Just in time for the Fourth of July holiday: Fake Buddhist monks are back. New York’s “new squeegee men” of 2015 are apparently not only still hanging around but actually having a bit of a resurgence in the city’s tourist meccas, including Times Square and especially around the High Line. In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s how the racket works: People dressed in the garb of a Buddhist monk approach people (tourists) and try to hand them a medallion with a peace message, or a beaded bracelet in exchange for a “donation,” usually for a made-up temple. If the monks don’t get the cash, they start following and pestering people relentlessly.

It also turns out that this is a global scheme, and the fake monks have been spotted in a bunch of other cities, including San Francisco, and in countries such as Hong Kong, Australia, and Nepal. They’re all reportedly using the same gold medallions that advertise “lifetime peace.”

Signs, like the one above, warning against the monk scam are up around the High Line, and administrators of the elevator park told CBS 2 earlier this month they’re also looking for a legal recourse to evict the fake monks