A 17-year-old A-level student has hanged himself after apparently falling victim to a ransomware scam.
Joseph Edwards from Windsor took his own life at the family home on 6 August last year, after receiving a spam email spoofed so it appeared to come from Cheshire police.
The message claimed he had been visiting illegal websites and that indecent images had been found on his computer.
As per many ransomware scams of this type, the note continued that he had to pay £100 to avoid prosecution – in this case to be made via electronic payment service Ukash. Malware downloaded onto Edwards’ computer also locked the machine, rendering it useless.
The schoolboy had a form of autism, which may have made him more likely to believe the scam was genuine, according to the Daily Telegraph.
"The internet is an amazing thing, but it can also be dangerous and I want parents to make sure their children are aware of this sort of scam, especially autistic children, because they will not understand,” mother Jacqueline Edwards said in a statement seen by the paper.
The tragic circumstances around Joesph Edwards’ death are not without precedent.
Last March, a Romanian man from Movila Miresii reportedly killed himself and his four-year-old son after receiving similar police ransomware, this time demanding a $20,000 fee to unlock his computer and avoid prosecution.
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