EDMONTON -- Three Alberta families have been targeted by scammers demanding money in exchange for information about the location of their missing loved one, investigators say.

Edmonton Police Service and RCMP are warning the public about providing personal information on public posters after the incidents.

In each case, the family had made an online missing-person post and received a text message.

The scammer demanded money, claiming to know where the missing person was.

In some cases, police say, the scammer even threatened to hurt the missing person if they didn’t receive the money.

Each family reported the texts to police and, as such, didn’t make any payments. Investigators were able to help them find their loved ones.

“We have dedicated units with incredible capabilities who are involved in these files, and our first priority is finding your loved one, explained Acting Sergeant Amanda Johnson with the EPS Missing Persons Unit.

“Not only did we locate their loved ones, we also went to great lengths to confirm these messages were not legitimate and ultimately located the source.”

The public was advised to provide police contact information, rather than their own personal information, on posters.

If a demand or threat comes in, police say not to engage.

“These individuals are using fear and urgency to prey on a highly emotional situation to make a quick dollar. We hope this warning will encourage anyone who receives these messages to contact us so that we can locate their loved one and hold those responsible accountable,” Johnson said.

“And if you are ever in the difficult position where a loved one has gone missing, please contact police immediately so we can work with you as we begin our investigation.”

Alberta RCMP work on about 3,000 missing-persons cases each year.