December 4, 2020

Scam Alert: Communication from Allegan County Sheriff and HCS

Hamilton Community Schools has recently been made aware of an internet ransom scam that is currently affecting students in Hamilton and surrounding school districts. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department has shared the following:

Be advised of the current predatory online scam targeting area teens, particularly males. Over the past few months, multiple reports have been filed regarding an extortion scam targeting local teens. The predator poses as a young person interested in forming a friendship or romantic connection. They will engage their target in an on-line relationship manipulating them to exchange sexual texts and pictures. The teen will then be told that this content will be posted on the internet if they do not send a large sum of money to an account via Western Union or PayPal. If the teen says no, the threats will escalate. The exact details vary case-by-case. This is a good time to revisit online behavior with your teenager. This is sophisticated criminal behavior and families and teens should not send money nor should they be ashamed if they are victims. If you are, please report any incident to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department at 269-673-3899.

We need to get this on everyone’s radar and it is imperative that you have a conversation with your child about the dangers of connecting with people that they don’t know on the internet. It is also important that they know they have resources and trusted adults that they can talk to should they find themselves in a difficult situation and need help navigating next steps. 

As a district we are working to compile additional information and work with outside organizations to create and offer workshops for parents to learn more about how you can help your child navigate the internet and the online environment in a safe and productive manner. In the meantime we want to share these initial resources with you today.

Internet Safety Resources

Free Digital Resources - Online Safety for Kids and Families

Parental Control Support for Chromebooks

Sextortion 

Sextortion: What Parents Should Know

Sextortion YouTube Video

You Sent a Sext Now What

Your Photo Fate Discussion Guide

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for following up with your child in regards to the need to safely navigate the internet as they work and interact with others online. We look forward to the opportunity to follow up with more support in the coming weeks and months. If you have concerns please reach out to your child’s building administration and we will connect you with additional resources and support. 

 

Hamilton Community School Administration 

Allegan County Sheriff’s Department