Oakland school officials issue warning of phone scam targeting families

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OAKLAND (KRON) — School officials in Oakland are issuing a warning to parents about a frightening phone scam targeting families with children in the Oakland Unified School District, according to district spokesman John Sasaki.

Two families with kids at Claremont Middle School were recent targets of scammers trying to extract money from them by using fear tactics, panic, and a sense of urgency, Sasaki said.

Sometime during the first week of September, the grandfather of a student got a call from someone who said his granddaughter had broken her nose and needed medical attention.

Last month during the first week of school the parents of a child received a call saying their child had been kidnapped and they had to pay a ransom to get them back, school district officials said.

Before doing anything else, family members called the school and found out their child was in class and okay.

“These families did the right thing,” Oakland Unified School District police Chief Jeff Godown said in a statement. “The first step is to call the school to verify the child’s safety.”

Then Godown wants parents to call police dispatch at (510) 872-7777 so officers can start an investigation.

Similar scams have occurred in the Bay Area and around the nation in the past. Earlier this year, Union City police warned residents of callers demanding ransom for a kidnapped loved one.

Early last year, the FBI warned residents of New York City of a virtual kidnapping scam that was on the rise.

Godown also wants to remind families to avoid giving out personal or financial information to anyone who initiates a phone call.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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