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Asia, Crime

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Asia, Crime

Teen chose suicide after online threat

The Straits Times | Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When 17-year-old Daniel Perry of Scotland realised that a girl who had lured him into a sexy Skype chat was not what she seemed, he asked: "What can I do to stop you showing this to my family?"

Blackmailers in the Philippines gave him the number of a bank account into which he was to deposit the kind of cash few teens have and ordered him to pay up. Failing that, they told him he "would be better off dead".

"You need to let a blade meet your throat," wrote one of his tormentors, according to London's Daily Mirror. "Kill yourself, mate," snapped another.

Little more than an hour later, Daniel did just that. He simply responded: "Bye". Then he texted his grandmother to say he was on his way home. Instead, he went to the Forth Road Bridge, outside Edinburgh, and jumped.

A rescue boat pulled him from the water alive, according to a report last Aug 15, but Daniel died a short time later.

Police Scotland became involved in investigating the ring after the teenager's death, the BBC reported last Friday. The Mail reported last August that Detective Chief Inspector Gary Cunningham, of Police Scotland's specialist crime division, had flown to Manila to work with the authorities in the Philippines, after establishing a task force involving police from the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Scotland.

There were no details on exactly what kind of sexual antics Daniel, an aspiring apprentice mechanic who lived in Dunfermline, Fife, was provoked into. But investigators say the criminals coax victims into stripping and performing sex acts in front of their webcams.

The sextortion ring then tracks down the victim's family and friends on Facebook or other social media sites, hijacks the conversation and threatens to send the video to them.

London's Mirror reported last year that child welfare charities have warned that they get dozens of calls a week from suicidal children as young as 11 being targeted for sextortion.

Daniel's mother Nicola Perry told the BBC last Friday that the way in which her son was tricked into the scam was "every parent's worst nightmare".

"After being targeted by complete strangers online, he was left so traumatised by his ordeal that he chose to take his own life," she said.

"Whoever was at the other end of that computer did not know Daniel.

"They didn't care that he was a loving and caring person with his whole life ahead of him.

"To them, he was just another faceless victim to exploit for cash."

This article was published on May 4 in The Straits Times.

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