Among the cast of characters posing in public spaces across the city concern is growing about these impostors: men dressed in robes pretending to be Chinese monks. They've been spotted at Bryant Park, Times Square, and the High Line. That is where we tried to speak with one, asking if he really is a monk. The man pushed our microphones away and didn't want to talk.
The New York Post reported that the apparent fake monks try to hawk plastic bracelets and insist that tourists hand back cash.
Some New Yorkers we spoke to say they're familiar with the apparent scam.
Buddhist Council Of New York President Rev. T.K. Nakagaki says it is technically not illegal but that it is a big problem. He says the practice is disrespectful. He says real monks would use more traditional collection bowls and would not aggressively ask for cash.
The Parks Department issued a statement saying that rules do "prohibit aggressive panhandling" and that anyone doing so could be issued a summons.