SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — New York authorities have charged three men with extorting money from dozens of people across the state by falsely claiming to have kidnapped their relatives and threatening to harm them if ransom wasn't paid.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood and state police Superintendent George Beach announced Tuesday that a 27-year-old man from Puerto Rico and two Syracuse men, ages 26 and 40, are charged with multiple counts of grand larceny, attempted grand larceny, coercion and conspiracy.

The extortion operation involved phoning people and claiming to have taken a close relative from an accident scene where someone had been injured. Authorities say the ringleader would threaten to harm the relative if money wasn't paid to cover the injured person's insurance bills.

Authorities say more than 55 people were victimized before the suspects were arrested.

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