Joseph Edwards appeared to friends and family to be a happy boy, but after a cruel online scam, the 17-year-old was found dead, the victim of a tragic suicide.
Edwards, a 17-year-old student from the UK, received a bogus email claiming to be from the police telling him that he was looking at illegal websites. The email warned him that an investigation was being launched.
Though Edwards was an A-student in school, he also suffered from autism, which family members said made him more susceptible to believe the scam email.
Police believe the email may have been something more insidious than a simple prank. The email told Joseph Edwards that he could be in trouble for looking at illegal websites, and would have to pay a large sum of money to get police to stop their investigation.
Joseph’s parents say he may not have been fully aware of the consequences of his actions.
“He was generally happy and had just started new friendship circles and was enjoying himself,” his mother told the coroner. “He did suffer from autism. I’m not sure he would have really understood the implications of what he was doing.”
Joseph Edwards is not the only person to fall victim to a cruel online scam. Officials in the UK say emails have been circulating claiming to be from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, telling the recipient that they may have cancer.
“This email is likely to cause distress to recipients since it advises that ‘test results’ indicate they may have cancer,” said Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE. “This malicious email is not from NICE. We are investigating its origin. We take this matter very seriously and have reported it to the police.”
Officials are warning anyone who gets the email, which are headed something like “Important Blood Results,” to delete them without opening it or any of the links.
The family of Joseph Edwards is trying to turn his suicide into a positive, using the attention from his death to raise awareness of email scams. His mother said she is asking that others “remember him for the better moments of his life than for the way that he died.”