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A scammer recently has been impersonating Colorado Springs police spokesman Lt. Howard Black to threaten Coloradans with arrest, police say.

"I received a call earlier this afternoon from a young man north of Longmont — he's returning my call, and it's a call I never made," Black said Thursday. "An individual calls him, says, 'Hey, I'm Lt. Howard Black. This is my badge number. I'm investigating you for having child pornography pictures. I need you to do this, this and this.'"

At least five people have received the scam calls, Black said.

Black said that when he told the victim he hadn't called, "you could just hear it in his voice — he was almost crying, saying, 'Oh thanks, I thought I was going to go to jail.' So it's really having an impact on individuals. Apparently this guy is believable enough to put that individual into that state."

Police Chief Pete Carey retiring in February after 34 years with Colorado Springs department

The calls appear to be a twist on a common scam in which callers or e-mailers claim to have video of users visiting pornographic websites. The scammer threatens to expose the victim's porn habit unless they are paid.

"If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately and report it to the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7000 or your local law enforcement agency," police said.

Ellie is a crime and breaking news reporter. She's a proud Midwesterner, stationery hoarder and Earl Grey tea enthusiast. After interning at The Gazette in 2015, she joined the newspaper's staff in 2016.

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