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Phone scam scares people into wiring money to Puerto Rico

By Rosa Duarte, Reporter, RDuarte@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 04 2013 09:00:12 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 05 2013 07:33:18 AM CST

Investigators say a new phone scam seems to be emerging in our area and across state lines.

Investigators say a new phone scam seems to be emerging in our area and across state lines.

Police say it all starts with a phone call to the victim's cell phone.

The person on the receiving end is told that a loved was in a car accident and is being held at gunpoint.

Detective Scott Pezick with the West Whiteland Township Police Department in Chester Co., says on Monday, a woman reported receiving a phone call from a man with a thick Spanish accent.

"He then demanded money in the amount of $900 from the victim and said he was holding her father at gunpoint and would shoot him if she didn't give the money to him," Pezick said.

Detective Pezick says the victim was told to stay on the phone and was directed to a Walmart where she was directed to send the money via MoneyGram to Puerto Rico.

“They play the part very well, they act very well, they have people in the background making sounds and again they're just preying on and putting fear into these people to the point where they're so scared that they only thing they're worried about is getting money to these people so they protect their family members,” said Pezick.

The case is very similar to one that occurred in the borough of Wilson, Northampton County on Tuesday.

Detectives say a 65 year old man reported he had received a call on his cell phone, a male voice with a Spanish accent told him his son was in a car accident and that the accident was his fault.

Police say the man was directed to go to a pharmacy and send money via MoneyGram to Puerto Rico. The victim sent $550.

Police say as soon as the transaction was completed, the call disconnected and the victim called his son, who turned out to be fine.

Pezick says there are things people can to avoid falling into the same trap:
-- Ask to speak to the loved one
-- Have someone else contact the loved one to make sure he or she is okay
-- Ask details like the type of car, what the loved one looks like and his or her name

Pezick adds it's crucial to contact police.

"This seems to be happening over a widespread area and the more aware about it and the more information that is gathered, the more likely we are to identify these people and arrest them,” he said.