For a third time, students in the Rochester area have reported being victimized by an online predator.
Officials in the Wayne Central School District announced Friday that several of its students were targeted on social media platforms, including Instagram and Snapchat. Similar claims were also reported in Canandaiugua and Penn Yan.
According to district officials, the person, or people, responsible create numerous social media accounts, friend the students and then try to get their personal information and private pictures. The predator then uses that information to blackmail students into providing additional pictures or information.
The Wayne County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that it is investigating. Meantime, parents are being asked to speak with their children about social media safety.
"I guess it's an eye-opener to parents in the district and to our teenagers to how easily they're accesible to these predators," said Canandaigua parent, Jennifer Werges.
"From my understanding, it’s a big fishing game," said Sgt. Nathan Lawrence, Canandaigua Police Department.
While not confirmed, the cases in these different school districts appear to be connected.
"We can only assume based on the same MO [motive] that it’s the same suspect or suspects," stressed Sgt. Lawrence.
In Canandaigua, the superintendent says that the district is reiterating its social media safety measures with students in sixth through 12th grades and urging students to speak up.
"We are continuing to educate students on what should they be aware of... What should they post?" said Caroline Chapman, Canandaigua Central School District Spokesperson.
The school districts targeted by the predator are urging parents to talk to their students. A list of resources, recommended by the districts, can be found below: