Daniel Perry, from Dunfermline, Scotland, has reportedly become the victim of blackmailers who stole his Skype chats with a person he believed was an American girl his own age.
The teen’s mother, who asked reporters to save her name in secret, revealed that the blackmailers had threatened to disclose the chats to Daniel’s family unless he paid money.
Instead, Daniel preferred to kill himself jumping from a bridge last month.
He was found the next day and died shortly afterwards descpite RNLI lifeboat crew had done their best in order to save the teen
Daniel’s mother said: “Knowing him as I do, he has felt embarrassed, horrified, and has thought he’s let everybody down.”
“He was coming up for his 18th birthday so it’s not as if we could have been checking what he was doing on his laptop.”
“However, he wasn’t doing anything wrong, just what anyone his age might do, but this scam is all about exploiting young people.”
The woman went on, adding that she intends to launch a campaign aimed to raise questions regarding web safety when she felt strong enough. The teen’s mother also said she wished her son had known that “nothing is ever that bad that you have to kill yourself”.
“He was the type to laugh things off. I still can’t believe this has happened and expect him to walk through the door any minute.”
Local officials said they would thoroughly investigate the boy’s death, as it would every case of online bullying or crime: “Police Scotland treats any instances of cyberbullying, online threats or blackmail very seriously.”
“Anyone who is or has been experiencing such treatment should contact the police as soon as possible.”
A leading UK children’s protection charity, the NSPCC, urged teens to protect themselves online – and to seek help if they found themselves targeted by bullies or blackmailers, reports CNN.
“It’s absolutely heart-rending that a young person could be deceived in such a way, with such a tragic outcome and our thoughts are with this young man’s family,” said Elaine Chalmers, area manager for the NSPCC’s helpline in Scotland.
“If you’ve only seen a static picture of someone online, they may not be who they say they are. It’s important not to send people pictures of yourself or take part in video calls if you aren’t sure who you are speaking to.”
“If you have been deceived online, you need to remember that you aren’t to blame and you are not the only person that this has happened to.”
Aileen Campbell, the Scottish minister for children and young people, sent her her condolences to the teen’s family, saying that although the internet offered great opportunities, its misuse could be “utterly devastating”.
“As well as making it easier to report online abuse, we need to educate parents and other adults around internet use,” she said. “People need to know where to turn for advice and who will support them if they need to take action.”
Jim Mooney, the headteacher of Daniel’s school, St Columba’s High School, said Daniel had been quite popular with staff and pupils. “Staff fondly remember his cheeky smile and the banter they had with him. He enjoyed having a laugh,” he said.
“The whole school community was very saddened at Daniel’s tragic death at such a young age. Both he and his family were remembered in our prayers when school resumed this week.”