BOSTON (WHDH) - The Boston Police Department issued a statement Saturday warning parents in the Boston Public Schools system to be careful posting private information on social media.

Police said there had been three separate incidents already where parents of students enrolled in BPS have received calls that their child was in danger or kidnapped. The scammers had information about the parent’s child, including their name, and demanded the parent send money through Western Union.

This type of extortion is called a kidnapping scam, according to police, and the perpetrators usually seek a ransom from the guardian to ensure their child’s safety. In some cases, scammers have very detailed information and use it to convince a guardian the scam is legitimate.

“Unfortunately, this scam has hit families within Boston and around the country,” BPS Chief Information Officer Mark Racine said in a statement. “It is disheartening to see that scammers are finding new, and personal ways to scam people out of money. We want all of our families, students, and staff, especially those most vulnerable among us, to be on the lookout for different types of scams that create a sense of urgency in order to persuade someone into sending money via Western Union, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. If you come across any suspicious behavior, please do not hesitate to file a report with the Boston Police Department or notify your head of school.” 

Advice from police included being careful posting publicly on social media, and to discuss online privacy protection with children. Scammers often search through social media for any information to trick parents, police said.

If a guardian receives a similar scam call, police said to hang up the phone right away, ignore suspicious emails or texts, and to call police immediately.

Police also warned parents not to reply to urgent messages demanding money, especially if the person demands them through discreet forms such as Western Union, gift cards, or cryptocurrency.

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