Authorities are sending a warning to families about kidnapping hoax calls that target parents of high school-aged children in Broward. The callers attempt to embezzle money from the victims.
The most recent hoax calls were reported in Weston and involved at least six students who attend Cypress Bay High School, officials said.
Officials from Weston and the school were holding a news conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the incidents.
Broward Sheriff's Office officials said in each case, the caller told the parent that their child was being held hostage and that if money was not wired over, their loved one would be shot or stabbed.
"He tells them immediately 'Don't hang up the phone. If you hang up the phone or attempt to disconnect, we'll kill your family member,'" said Sgt. Jeffrey Mellies, with the Broward Sheriff's Office. "This is obviously an attempt to keep them on the phone to prevent them from contacting the family member or checking on them."
The caller would demand as much as $4,000, but the victim would later learn their child was not in danger. None of the victims in the reported incident sent money to the callers.
The earliest hoax reported in Weston dates back to Dec. 14, involving a teen boy who was tricked into believing his mother was involved in a car accident and being held at gunpoint. In that case, the boy's father and mother were also contacted around the same time and given the same threat.
Police say the victims involved were never in danger or ever kidnapped. The FBI said it has seen this hoax around the country.
The Mayor of the City of Weston held a news conference Wedesday, warning residents to not fall for the scam.
"There's enough information that families and kids put out on social media innocently that provides people with information," Mayor Daniel Stermer said.
The City of Weston also sent a warning to residents in its weekly newsletter, sharing tips for parents.
If you received a similar call be sure to stay calm, don't share names, request to speak to the victim directly, confirm your loved ones' whereabouts, don't send money or meet with the caller and call 911.