Huffpost New York

Angry, Smelly Elmo Harassing Tourists In Times Square

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Evil Elmo is back.

In 2009 The Daily News reported on an imposter Elmo (if there is such a thing as a "real" Elmo) who was seen in Times Square aggressively courting tourists' cash for pictures, and cursing them out when they refused to pay up. He even lunged at the Daily News photographer who snapped his picture, and then quickly apologized. "Look man, Elmo needs to make a living, too," he said.

This surly Elmo was spotted again this weekend, From The Daily News:

Jed Lehman, 47, from Trenton, went out of his way to shield his 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, from the masked menace after hearing him taunt passersby.

"What's happened to society? Now Elmo is trying to shake down kids for a dollar? Only in New York," said Lehman.

Asked why he was so grumpy, the fake Elmo said he was misunderstood.

"I'm not being rude. Taking an Elmo picture without paying is rude. It's called making a living," said the character, who refused to give his real name or take off his costume head.

Is this an isolated incident of one cranky New Yorker trying to scam well-meaning but clueless tourists, or part of a larger threat?

Filed by Jonah Green