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Police: Phone scammers using phony car crash story to get cash

Phone scammers based in Puerto Rico are still targeting Chicago residents with a made-up story about a car crash and using threats to get them to send money, police said.

Chicago police issued a community alert Tuesday alerting residents to the scheme. Authorities previously warned of the same operation in late September.

The callers tell victims a relative has been in an auto accident, and that they are holding the relative until they receive money for medical expenses, police said in a community alert.

The calls appear to victims to be local phone numbers, but they are actually originating in Puerto Rico, police said.

The scammers threaten to harm the relative if victims do not wire money, and try to keep people on the phone long enough to complete the wire transfer to Puerto Rico, police said.

In some instances, the callers made victims give them another person’s contact information, and contacted that person saying they were holding the first victim hostage, police said.

The callers also identified themselves as Latin King gang members in some instances, police said.

Anyone with information about the scam is asked to call the CPD’s Financial Crimes Unit at (312) 746-9661.