What scam could this be? Calling daycare centers claiming to have a lost child who has their number.

Several daycare centers in this area have reported the same weird thing: a man telephones them and says he has found a small child wandering around, who is too young to say where she is from or how to contact her parents or guardians. The man says the child has a backpack with some phone numbers written inside, so he is trying calling them, and one of them is the phone number of the daycare he has just called. He tries to get them to figure out whether the child is one of theirs. Then he gets vague and evasive, for example about whether he has called the police or why not. Eventually he hangs up.

This sounds very suspicious but none of us who have been hearing about this can figure out what evil plot he might be hatching. He’s not asking for money, not asking the daycare to send somebody out to see the child, not trying to get them to do anything more than just say whether or not this child is one they are responsible for. And he’s not doing a very good job of that, either.

What could he be up to?

May be trying to find out if a specific child goes to that daycare. For example, a non-custodial parent with a restraining order. Or a mobster whose accountant is in witness protection, and the accountant has a kid of that description. Daycare says yes, then hanging around that daycare may soon be followed by actions resulting in leverage for said mobster.

My WAG is also that the guy is a non-custodial parent, and he’s trying to figure out where the kid goes to daycare, so he can take the kid. He’s calling every daycare in the area till one of them slips and says the child goes there.

ETA: has this been reported in the news, and if so can you link to a story?

Preschool worker here:

He could be trying to find out what kind of security they have. Obviously, they are pretty suspicious, because they are not missing a child. If they were-- if even if a child who wasn’t expected that day was missing from home-- they would know, and what they would do, would be to get the police who would probably be there to talk to the guy, find his location, and go to him. If there were no police there, they would try to get his location themselves, and send the police there.

If they would happen to say “Oh, bring the kid over,” that’s already a security risk. But that still doesn’t get him into the building. It does get him to the parking lot, though, without sending up an alarm. Security is REALLY tight in preschools and daycare centers now. We check IDs of people we don’t immediately recognize against a list of people authorized to pick up a particular child, and we don’t let people into the building who don’t have business there, and can’t readily demonstrate their business. We are located in another business, so we do have people come to the wrong door, and we have to send them to the right door. So far, no one has argued, but if anyone did, it would send up red flags.

He might be planning on doing something like coming to the door with a backpack, and saying the kid was in the car, and asking if someone recognized the backpack, just to try to gain access to the building. It wouldn’t work. Like I said, letting the guy come to the school was already a bad move, but whoever went to the door would want to go to the car and see the child. That would be a bad move too-- don’t go anywhere with this guy-- but at least it risks just one employee, and not the whole school, which could be at risk if he were let in.

I don’t know why he wants access. He may not know where his kids are after a messy divorce, and his ex has a TRO, and so he wants to check out any place they may be. He may be looking for an ex-wife or girlfriend who is a teacher. He may just want to stir up trouble somewhere, and gaining access to a well-guarded preschool is a good “challenge.” Maybe he’s a potential shooter, looking for an easy mark.

He’s trolling, in the sense of stirring up trouble so he can get off. I doubt that he is plotting an attack, and he probably has no children in that day care. He’s just a weirdo.


Found two accounts online:

That was my first thought. I remember doing prank calls like that when I was 16 - 18 and partying with a group of guys. We’d think about crazy scenarios and troll away.