By Brad Segall

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — Authorities in Chester County are warning residents about a new twist on an old phone scam that terrorized a local woman who believed her father’s life was in danger.

The woman tells West Whiteland police she received a cell phone call from a man with a heavy Mexican accent who identified himself as “Robert” and said he was involved in an automobile accident with her father.  He said he needed $900 for the damages to his car or he would harm her dad.

Police say the woman wired the money to Puerto Rico but later realized she had been scammed.   Her father was safe and sound at work.

West Whiteland detective Scott Pezick says the call lasted about two hours.

“That’s why they’re able to get away with it,” he told KYW Newsradio.  “They’re keeping them on the phone and keeping them in a panic and people aren’t thinking clearly, and they just want to do whatever they have to to resolve the problem.”

Pezick says the same man unsuccessfully targeted a West Goshen woman.  He says there have been similar hoaxes in central Pennsylvania and dozens in the Boston area, so the scheme may be making its way more widely to the Philadelphia region.

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