Children and teenagers are also the target of fraudsters

Facebook friend requests from an attractive stranger from overseas, text messages offering money or e-mails demanding it: you can often, as an adult, recognize the signs of a cyberfraud maneuver. On the other hand, at an age when naivety sometimes exceeds experience, this is not always the case for children and adolescents.

Whether it’s an adult, a senior or a young person, fraudsters will be looking for the same things: « to obtain personal information », « to extract money » or « to find someone to commit a crime or launder money ». money, » explains Valérie Parente, fraud prevention advisor at Desjardins. However, like adults and elders, teenagers are an age group with specific consumption and communication habits, « what will change is the scheme used by the fraudster to get what he wants », Specifies Ms. Parente.

Video games and personal information

A cybersecurity issue of which young people are more often victims, “they are the games and the applications which will sometimes ask for personal information just to obtain the game for free. It raises little red flags.

Even established companies and well-known games can pose a risk. For example, Epic Games and its giant Fortnite were found guilty on December 19 of having abused the private data of thousands of children using its platform. The company will have to pay more than half a billion for this.

The false friend

More easily impressionable, another scheme of which young people tend to be easier victims is that of the false friend, where “the fraudster will create a false identity to create a bond of trust with a young person”, in particular social networks. For example, a fraudster may « befriend the youth or his group of friends » and maintain the illusion that he is « successful. » « Once the link is established, the fraudster can offer the young person to invest in a new application, a game. It’s unfortunate, but once invested, we may never see the money again, » says Ms. Kinship.

Online, it also happens that a fraudster manages to usurp the identity of “a real friend” and ask for “financial assistance” from the young person. « He really makes the youngster look like a hero », which motivates him to embark on the scheme, says Valérie Parente.

She argues that for parents it is “important to monitor relationships”.

Text messages promising money

While phishing texts and money messages are usually sent in the thousands to different phone numbers, and therefore are not targeted specifically at young people, young people who may be more naive may fall for the trap. even if they do not disclose personal or banking information. Sometimes, “just click” on a trapped link, recalls Ms. Parente.

It can be as rudimentary as responding to one of those dodgy texts. This is the case of the daughter of Johan Batier, who allowed a fraudster by text message to pocket $200.

« My 12-year-old daughter was phished and validated eight times $25 messages, called premium messages, or $200. »

Johan Batier, father of a teenage victim of cyberfraud

Fraudulent text messages received by Johan’s queue.

Faced with the constant threat, awareness of cyber fraud is now being done in schools.

« At that age, you concretely think, even if you have judgment, that you can win a phone quickly by answering a contest », describes Johan to raise the vulnerability of adolescents, stemming from their impressionability. Even though her daughter was aware of cybersecurity, she could not avoid the trap. “They already had cybersecurity lessons in school. But for her, with her naivety, these text messages, it was nothing, ”adds the father.

For Ms. Parente, one of the problems of such a situation is the lack of awareness. « We may be aware, there is awareness, but you also have to develop reflexes, » she said, adding that « we can all be victims ».

To develop reflexes in order to avoid falling into traps, Ms. Parente recommends getting information from the Cybercriminology Clinic. The Clinic, an initiative associated with the School of Criminology of the University of Montreal, « offers free support, training and information services to victims of criminal acts facilitated by new technologies, as well as to their loved ones,” as described on its website.

As of September 30, 2022, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC) identified 7,051 reports of phishing messages which resulted in 1,722

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