Kidnapping hoax targets D.C. Catholic schools

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON – It is a parent’s worst nightmare, getting a call from someone saying their child has been kidnapped. Officials with the Archdiocese of Washington say that is exactly what happened to some parents, who only later found out the calls were scams.

“That would just devastate me to hear or receive that kind of phone call,” said Delores Robinson, mother of two.

Leaders with the Archdiocese of Washington told DCW50, there was a scam going around, parents were receiving phone calls telling them their child has been kidnapped from school.  Officials believe the scammers were specifically targeting parents that have children in Catholic schools.

“You don’t want to be working and you think your kid is as school safe and then get a call that someone has snatched up your kid you know,” expressed Robinson.

“Unfortunately, it is all about people preying on other people’s fears and they are going to take advantage of that,” explained Charlie Hennessy, Principal at Holy Trinity School.

Holy Trinity is just one of dozens of Catholic schools in the area that were being targeted.

“We don’t need that at this school or any school,” Principal Hennessy said.

The Archdiocese of Washington released this statement:

"We became aware earlier today that a parent with a child in an archdiocesan school was contacted by phone by an individual claiming to have kidnapped their child.  Police were immediately contacted; this parent confirmed their child was safe in school, and this was quickly identified as a scam. Out of respect for the privacy of this family that suffered this scam, we cannot provide additional details. Subsequently police informed us of a second, similar scam at an independent, private school unrelated to the Archdiocese.

We take the safety of our students seriously. Out of an abundance of caution, the archdiocesan schools office notified our school communities so that both parents and schools would be prepared to respond appropriately if any of them were targeted.”

As of Wednesday around noon, police said they were investigating the the situation.

If you get a phone call similar to these, officials say you should first, confirm with the school that your child is there, and then call the FBI or police to report the scam.