Safety Alert: Kidnapping Phone Scam

Message sent May 8, 2024
Good afternoon West Shore students, families and staff, 
Recently, one of our families experienced a scam that took advantage of their worst fear, that their child may be in danger. With the families’ permission, I felt a need to warn our entire school community of this scam and to provide information should your family face a similar situation. 
During the school day, one of our parents received a phone call from a number similar to the school’s phone number. The call began with what sounded like their child on the phone. Then, an adult spoke and claimed the child had been kidnapped from school property. The caller took advantage of easily found details about the school campus and used a child’s voice crying in the background to make the claim more realistic. While one parent was on the phone with the scammer, the other parent called the school. School staff were able to confirm the student was not in danger and arranged for the parent to speak with their child.
We are grateful that when faced with a very stressful situation, the parent was able to remain calm and contacted school staff and law enforcement for assistance. According to our School Resource Officer, Michael Lightner, with the Lower Allen Township Police Department, here is what you should do, if you ever receive a similar phone call, email, or text.
Do Not Respond: Hang up the call immediately. Do not engage with the scammer or provide any personal information.
Verify Your Child's Whereabouts: Contact your son or daughter directly or reach out to the school to confirm their location and safety. As a reminder, if your student is absent, the school will notify you through our automated message system.
Report the Incident: If you cannot confirm your child's whereabouts, or if you suspect foul play, please call 911 immediately to report the incident to the police. Time is of the essence in such situations, and it's crucial to involve law enforcement as soon as possible.
Additionally, this recent incident provides each of us with a good reminder to check our social media account privacy settings, and to limit what personal information is shared online. The more information a scammer can gather, the more likely it is they can convince their victim the scam is real.
While we have no reason to suspect that West Shore families are being targeted or that more of these types of scam calls will be taking place, we did want to make sure everyone was aware of their potential and hope you find Officer Lightner’s tips helpful.
Todd B. Stoltz, Ed.D.
[email protected]

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