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2 Victims Of Unemployment Fraud Say They Couldn't Get Through To Chicago Police To File Reports

CHICAGO (CBS) -- No one likes being ghosted, but especially not by the Chicago Police Department.

After two victims of unemployment fraud tried to file police reports, they ran into brick walls - from dozens of unanswered phone calls to rejected online requests.

CBS 2's Tim McNicholas asked the CPD about the issue.

The sound of rings with no answer while he's on the phone is a sound that Thomas Sanderson is tired of hearing.

"Very frustrating," he said. "Answer the call. Let's get this done."

Those frustrations really started back in the fall, when he learned someone filed for unemployment using his information.

"I said, I didn't file for unemployment," Sanderson said. "I'm still employed."

He flagged the fraud with the Illinois Department of Employment Security and he figured they were on it.

Fast forward to this month, and he got a notice that someone was trying to take out a loan in his name with the Small Business Administration - so he called them.

"My credit had had a hard pull for a loan. It was a $20,000 loan in my name," Sanderson said. "They said, 'OK, you've got to call Experian and you've got to file a police report.'"

So Sanderson walked to the Town Hall (19th) District police station and found signs saying you should enter for an emergency.

"For non-emergency matters and for all other concerns, including filing a police report, please dial 311," the sign says. "You may also report a crime online."

Sanderson tried that, but an automated CPD email said his report can't be done online and he'd have to call for officer assistance.

"So I call that number I don't know how many times now," he said. "It just rings maybe 10 times; hangs up on you."

He said he has never gotten an answer.

He called the number and after one minute of ringing, the call disconnects. He tried again through 311, but they just connected him to the same CPD non-emergency line – where the same thing happened again.

Sanderson laughed at the recorded voice on the line advising, "Did you know you can file some police reports online?"

We found others complaining about similar problems on social media, including Bethany Schira.

"Something needs to get done about this because this, like, these are people's identities," Schira said.

She said she was a victim of unemployment fraud and she did get a hold of someone on CPD's non-emergency line last month.

"I had like a 15-minute conversation where I kind of just explained to them what happened and after hearing all that they told me: 'Oh, we can't help you over the phone. You need to do it online,'" Schira said.

But when she took that advice, she got the same notice Sanderson got - saying this report can't be done online. She said they told her to try again online.

But at that point, Schira said: "I don't know. I kind of gave up."

A police spokeswoman told us people who want to can still make a non-emergency report in person despite the signs requesting online or phone reports. She also explained why it might be hard to get through on the phone.

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chicago Police Department's Alternative Response Section (ARS), which takes non-emergency reports, has been temporarily relocated to the Education and Training Academy facility. Because of the relocation and technical limitations, there has been a reduction in how many calls ARS is able to take at one time. Individuals who wish to report non-emergency incidents are encouraged to continue calling 311 or file a report online through

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, residents are reminded that they can file non-emergency reports online or by calling 311 to reduce in-person traffic within Department facilities. However, residents who wish to file police reports in-person may continue to do so at any CPD district station."

But again, those signs on the Town Hall District station request phone or online reports. So that's what Sanderson did -- or at least tried to do.

After we started asking questions, the CPD finally reached out to Sanderson and took his report. They say they reached out to Schira too.

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