Cybercrime can affect anyone at any time.
My client Helen called me at 19:30 during the Christmas break, distraught and didn’t know which way to turn. Her grandson (Joe) whom she was looking after whilst her daughter (Chloe) was overseas, had received a message on the social media platform Discord claiming that her 12-year-old grandson had done some illegal activities online and would be reported to the police if they did not pay £300 in the next 20 minutes and that they had the personal and bank details of Chloe and were going to take a payment.
As Joe was a minor and did not have access to £300 or a bank account, he panicked and told his grandmother to just pay the money. Thankfully Helen called me and after calming Helen down, speaking with Joe and carefully assessing the situation, we concluded that it was a scam and not to pay the scammers as Joe had done nothing illegal.
The fraudster brought up the payment history of a previous transaction Joe had done online and was going to start taking payments. They had shown Joe a copy of the transaction and had then proceeded to take money from Chloe’s account which is when Chloe called from her holiday saying her bank blocked a suspicious transaction from leaving her account.
Thankfully Chloe and her family averted becoming the victim of cybercrime by blocking her bank accounts and cards.
Helen’s frantic phone call during the Christmas break was a chilling reminder of how cybercrime can infiltrate our lives, even during moments of joy and family.
Her grandson, Joe, became the target of a sophisticated scam on Discord, a platform seemingly meant for harmless gaming and chat. This isn’t just Helen’s story, it’s a cautionary tale for all families navigating the ever-evolving digital landscape.
The Bait and Switch:
- Exploiting Emotions: The scammer cleverly targeted a grandmother’s love and concern for her grandchild, weaponising Joe’s age and vulnerability to create panic and pressure.
- Time-Bound Terror: The 20-minute countdown was a calculated move to bypass rational thinking and force a hasty, emotional decision.
- Double Threat: The alleged access to Chloe’s bank details added another layer of anxiety, creating a double whammy of financial and legal fear.
The Red Flags:
- Outlandish Accusations: Claims of illegal activities against a 12-year-old, especially without specifics, are highly improbable.
- Urgency and Pressure: Legitimate entities rarely employ scare tactics and tight deadlines.
- Implausible Demands: Payment in 20 minutes, from a minor with no access to the funds, raises immediate suspicion.
The Defense Mechanisms:
- Open Communication: Helen’s open communication with Joe allowed them to assess the situation calmly and collectively.
- Seeking Help: Reaching out for advice and support from a trusted source, like DMT Solutions, proved crucial in avoiding the scam.
- Knowledge is Power: Chloe’s alertness and quick action in blocking her accounts prevented financial loss.
Lessons for the Digital Age:
- Education is Key: Equip children and adults alike with the knowledge to identify scams, understand red flags, and navigate the online world safely. Resources like Action Fraud UK and CIFAS offer valuable guidance.
- Communication Matters: Open, honest conversations about online experiences are vital. Encourage children to share concerns without fear of judgment.
- Staying Vigilant: Be wary of unsolicited messages, especially those making urgent demands or threats. Verify information and seek trusted advice before making any decisions.
- Security Measures: Use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and keep software updated to minimise vulnerabilities.
- Report Suspicious Activity: Reporting scams to authorities like Action Fraud UK and CIFAS helps track and apprehend cybercriminals and prevent cybercrime.
Helen’s story is a testament to the importance of vigilance, open communication, and knowledge in the face of cybercrime.
By sharing this experience and equipping ourselves with the tools to combat these threats, we can create a safer digital world for ourselves, our families, and our loved ones.
Remember, even the most tech-savvy among us can fall prey to scams.
The key lies in awareness, education, and a healthy dose of scepticism.
Let’s stay vigilant, spread awareness, safeguard our loved ones, and make the online world a safer space for all!
Action Fraud UK: https://actionfraud.police.uk/
National Cyber Security Centre (UK): https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/
Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (US): https://www.cisa.gov/
*The names have been changed to protect the identity of our clients.