An autistic schoolboy hanged himself after receiving a bogus “police” email claiming he had been looking at illegal websites and must pay a £100 fine.
Joseph Edwards was more susceptible to believing the scam was genuine because of his disability, a coroner heard today.
The 17-year-old A-level student was found hanged at his home by his mum, who has since launched a campaign to make children more aware of the dangers from internet scams.
Joseph received the online spam message, purportedly from Cheshire police, claiming that he had been visiting illegal websites on his computer and he would have to pay a large sum of money to avoid officers taking action.
However, the youngster took the bogus message literally because of his autism, leading him to hang himself in his family home in Windsor, Berkshire, the inquest heard.
The schoolboy had spent the day at home, when his mother Jacqueline returned to the house after 6pm, opening the door to find his body hanging in the hallway.
His tearful mother told the hearing at Windsor Guildhall how her son had been a “happy boy”.
“He was generally happy and had just started new friendship circles and was enjoying himself,” she told the coroner.
Edwards was an A-level student with Autism, a developmental disability, that likely made him more susceptible to believing the Internet scam mail, supposedly sent from from Cheshire police, was genuine, a coroner heard on Thursday.
Edwards was so upset and depressed by the accusation and the extortionate demand that he hanged himself hours after falling victim to the crucial threat. He was found hanged at his family home in Windsor by his mother Jacqueline Edwards, who told the coroner that he probably didn’t understand the implications of his actions.
“He didn’t seem to have any worries known to me. I don’t think he really understood,” Jacqueline Edwards told the coroner. “Joseph was subjected to a scam on the internet, a threatening, fake police link that was asking for money,” his mother said in a statement. “He would have taken it literally because of his autism and he didn’t want to upset Georgia [his sister] or me.“
As far as we all know, a Police ransomware of this type does not encrypt files and usually asks a victim to pay a small fine that last around $200 or €200. It’s normally much easier to remove the threat from infected systems by using dedicated tools specially designed to remove such infections.
According to Detective Sergeant Peter Wall, it will be almost impossible to trace the fraudsters behind the ‘crude’ email, but believe it may have originated outside the UK.
This is not first time when Ransomware has become deadly reason to take someone’s life. Over a year ago, a Romanian family faced same Police Ransomware threat and the Romanian victim hanged himself and his four-year-old son, scarring that his young son would pay for his mistake and his life would be spend in the moment of delusion.
Ransomware is one of the most blatant and obvious criminal’s money making schemes out there, from which Cryptolocker threat had touched the peak, and cyber criminals have developed many Cryptolocker versions (prisonlocker, linkup, icepole, cryptobit) by which you have to safeguard your system.