The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be a scary place too

by Lorraine Williamson
internet dangers

MADRID – Nowadays almost everyone has a device or at least access to one linking them to the internet. This is regardless of age or wealth.

Lockdown led this to become an even greater influence on us than ever before. Businesses were forced to change concepts and go online. Children and students were being taught via the internet. People were not able to travel or meet friends, so online chat platforms were springing up everywhere. In fact, many of us would now struggle to spend 24 hours offline.

The other side of the internet

However, aside from access to knowledge and help for our businesses, there is a whole “leisure” area out there with games, apps, meet-ups etc.

Beware of who you are talking to on the net. In many cases, people will be genuine, but often they are not who they say they are. This concerns both adults and children.

Online romance

A lot of romances begin online these days. And many do turn out to have a beautiful story and a positive outcome. However, an online romance could scam you out of money after building your trust over a period.

Currently, the Spanish Policia Nacional are warning to be vigilant of such scams. They say, “it begins by you getting to know each other by #Internet, he sends you photos, he swears eternal love and, without realising it, you start a virtual relationship. But… He claims to be a military man, a doctor for an NGO or to be sick and asks you for money with any excuse.” This doesn´t happen overnight. The scammer builds your trust, confides in you, and you in him. These people are professional!

Online scams involve vulnerability, trust, and credibility

They are believable. They are either in for the short game or the long game, the short game targets lots of people for usually insignificant or relatively small amounts of money. So, people don´t always question. Or they are credible by using fake logos and authentic-sounding messages to gain access to your personal information and bank detail.

cogesa expats

For those that are in it for the long game, they work on gaining your trust and becoming your online “friend” or “lover”. This is extremely dangerous for children and adults alike.

Children

Europol warns of the increased danger since lockdown, as it means everyone is spending even more time online.

They advise that although adults may be working from home, “they may be spending less time with their children. Consequently, this could mean allowing greater unsupervised internet access”.

Be especially vigilant on what internet access children have as they have no idea who they are chatting with. This is a big opportunity for pedophiles to groom victims.

As a result, Europol says, children are:

  • more exposed to offenders through online gaming, the use of chat groups in apps, phishing attempts via email, unsolicited contact in social media, and through less secure online educational applications
  • more inclined towards making explicit material to exchange with peers, eventually reaching child sex offenders
  • in some cases, becoming lonely and isolated, which offenders try to benefit from, connecting with them to produce explicit material or to arrange a meeting in real life 

Europol also has some good tips to help keep your children safe when they are online.

Related article: Policia Nacional arrest 8 pedophiles

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