OAKLAND (KCBS) – Authorities in the East Bay are warning families not to fall for a frightening scam that is targeting the parents of young children.

The phone rings, and the caller says your child has been kidnapped, demanding a large ransom. Or you hear that your child has been badly hurt at school.

Parents whose children attend Claremont Middle School have reported hearing these calls for the last month. Similar scams have been reported in Union City and in New York.

In each case, the scary stories are bogus, and their children are fine.

Oakland Unified School District Police Chief Jeff Godown warns the scammers could try again.

“Not discounting that this is kids playing a prank until the investigation has concluded, and to find out exactly what happened,” Godown told KCBS.
The FBI is taking this seriously and has issued an alert about the scam.

Parents should call their child’s school directly to confirm if something has happened to their child and to contact police if they receive a call from a scammer.

“Anytime someone calls you, anything in reference to that and you feel insecure about it, you’re uncomfortable with it, definitely hang the phone up and call the police,” Godown said. “Never give out your personal information, never give out your Social Security number, never promise to give them money.”