Scammers with sob stories are draining bank accounts in Lakeview, on the Mag Mile

| Image via Vecteezy

CHICAGO — Scammers are working the Magnificent Mile and Clark Street near Wrigleyville and Boystown, using phony sob stories to access victims’ online banking accounts, according to Chicago police.

“The scam is two guys standing outside of a store, in this case, Target, soliciting people to give them donations for their child who was shot in the back of their head,” one of the victims told us. He was scammed outside the Target store at 3204 North Clark around 11 a.m. on January 3.

“They present a clipboard with a bunch of names, and they ask for money. They ask for Apple Pay. Stupidly, I gave them my Apple Pay, and they charged me $2300 to ‘Chicago Parks.'”

In addition to using bogus stories about children being shot or killed, the men have claimed to be soliciting for a children’s charity, or “bucket boys,” according to Chicago police.

The men ask to use the victim’s phones to transfer “donations” via PayPal, Apple Pay, Zelle, or Venmo. But they take far more than a modest donation.

Sometimes, the men delete the banking app from the victim’s phone so the victim does not receive any notifications about the transaction, the police said.

“I was able to remove the charge because I had my Apple Pay associated with a credit card and on a debit card,” the victim who reached out to us said, “but it’s still a hassle and very dangerous.”

In addition to that man’s experience, the scammers have targeted victims outside Shake Shack, 3519 North Clark, at 2 a.m. on January 13 and the Nike store, 669 North Michigan, at 1:04 p.m. on January 13.

CPD said the crew consists of one to four Black males between 16 and 45 years old. The victim who spoke with us said two Black males targeted him; both were overweight, and one had blonde and black dreadlocks.

If you have information about the scammers, contact financial crime detectives at 312-746-9661.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is