Students in Yates County being blackmailed by online predator; police investigating

    (MGN Online photo)

    Penn Yan, N.Y. (WHAM) - Investigators with the Penn Yan Police Department are digging into multiple reports of an online predator who is blackmailing students at multiple Yates County schools.

    The Penn Yan and Dundee School Districts both issued notices this week to parents and the public about several students who have been victimized.

    A total of seven children were targeted in blackmail schemes, according to Penn Yan Police Chief Thomas Dunham.

    The individual or individuals involved in the reported blackmailing will create multiple social media accounts and add students. After accepting the requests, the students will share "very personal and private images and information" with the person.

    According to district officials, the individual or individuals behind the accounts are now using the information to blackmail students into sending them additional pictures and information. If they do not, the perpetrators threaten to share the pictures and information that have already been given on other social media sites.

    "It is important for our students and families to remember, 'if you see something, say something' if your child comes across concerning activity on social media," said Dundee School Superintendent Kelly Houck.

    Both the Penn Yan and Dundee School Districts point people toward online resources on how to know what children are working on. Some of those include NetSmartzKids, SafeKids, Web Wise Kids, and tips for monitoring kids on social media. One of the most basic suggestions for kids: set your account to private.

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