EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Granite School District issues warning of scam targeting parents

Oct 10, 2023, 8:00 AM | Updated: 9:21 am

granite school district sign pictured, one of its principals will sleep on the roof...

FILE: A Granite School District sign is pictured at the district's offices in South Salt Lake on Monday, April 26, 2021. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SOUTH SALT LAKE — The Granite School District is warning families about new phone scams targeting parents while their child is in class. And the scammers seem to know just enough information to convince parents the situation might be real.

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 Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said in one scam, a parent receives a phone call that their child was kidnapped on the way to school and asks the parent for a ransom to keep the child alive and safe.

While some would immediately see the rampant red flags, Horsley pointed out that the scammers had information like the child’s name and school to sound legitimate.

One father recently fell for the scam, he explained.

“The father was not sure that his child had even gotten to school,” Horsley said.

Because he was on the phone, the dad didn’t have a quick way to check if his son was in class. In the meantime, the scammers were threatening harm.

“He was very frightened and trying to get to the school. But it was on the other end of the valley,” Horsley said. “So, didn’t feel like he could hang up with the scammer and call the school to make sure that his child was okay.”

The father ended up forking over money, Horsley said.

A second scam in the Granite School District

Horsley explained a second scam they’re seeing pop up, where a parent receives a call from the school district’s actual phone number.

“Indicating that their child has been severely injured,” he said, of the nature of the call. “In this particular case, [the child] had been hit by a car allegedly, and the school was notifying them. And so the parent was very concerned about their child’s well-being.”

Horsley said the number was a spoof. It’s unclear how scammers planned to try to push the parent into paying in that instance.

Part of what made these seem so real, he explained, was the fact that the scammers had information on the children.

“They were pulling information from off of social media,” he said. “Always keep your content private.”

He said parents should only post privately on social media. And avoid posting information about your child, like where they attend school or the name of their teacher.

Horsley said anyone who gets a scam call like this can text the Granite Police Dispatch number at 801-664-2929 and ask if their child is in class. A dispatcher can check while the parent is on the phone with the potential scammers. And can also help the parent gather info about the scammers that may help police.

In the case of the father who thought his son was kidnapped on the way to school, Horsley said the dad actually drove to the school and the school brought his son out, safe and sound.

But by then, he’d already sent money.

“I think scammers could potentially be preying on that vulnerability,” Horsley said, “That emotional vulnerability that would come to any parent who feels or fears that their child might be in any sort of danger.”

Related: Scam call impersonating Utah health officials, targets the elderly

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Granite School District issues warning of scam targeting parents