With online gaming being a big part of many young people’s lives, it is important for young gamers and parents to be aware of the risks of virtual interactions, including the dangers of grooming.
While gaming can be fun and have positive social benefits, the Queensland Police Service’s specialised unit investigating internet facilitated child exploitation sees the dark side of the internet.
Much of what they investigate stems from children being tricked by adults into taking and sharing explicit photos or videos of themselves.
Our message to young people in this situation is know that it is not your fault and help is available.
What can young people do?
- Be cautious about who you’re interacting with online. Understand that predators ask personal questions and attempt to become friendly quickly. They may try to contact you frequently, in different ways.
- Sharing personal information or images puts you at risk. Avoid using real names, phone numbers, or sharing photos, passwords or personal information.
- If something goes wrong: stay calm, take screenshots, block the person and report inappropriate contact. Importantly, make sure you talk to parents or a trusted adult.
- Online grooming should be reported to police, image-based abuse can be reported to eSafety.
- Kids Helpline can offer support.
What can parents do?
- Have open, regular and non-judgmental conversations about who your child might be interacting with online.
- Educate yourself and be aware of what games and online chat services your child is using.
- Where possible keep all internet capable devices in common family areas.
- Check privacy settings on accounts and consider whether the chat function enabled on games is necessary. The eSafety Guide provides practical information about the latest games and apps, including security and connectivity options.
- Teach your child to be alert to signs of grooming and inappropriate contact. Check out the resources below for more information on how to start the chat.
- Report grooming to police. Image-based abuse can be reported to eSafety.
Latest scam a grift not a gift
Police are asking the Sunshine Coast community to remain vigilant and remember that no government organisation, particularly the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will seek payment via gift cards.
Police around the state have received a number of reports about ‘scammers’ calling members of the public and threatening arrest warrants if they refuse to repay a tax debt.
In many cases, the victims have been told to purchase large sums of gift cards as a form of payment.
Police in Maroochydore were notified recently of a 67-year-old local man who lost $12,000 to this type of scam after received a threatening email and subsequent phone call. The scammer directed him to purchase gift cards and provide the details of the cards.
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The scammer will try and pressure you into paying immediately by threatening you with arrest, or say they will send police to your house if you refuse.
Scammers will also send emails claiming you owe money for things like a speeding fine, tax office debt or unpaid bill. Scammers are quick minded and fast acting and will try anything!
If you believe you may have been scammed or have information concerning a scam, report this activity to Scamwatch
This column is compiled by Acting Sergeant Sandy Atkinson of the Sunshine Coast District Crime Prevention Unit.