A Facebook fake account has left a town in turmoil. It has left parents and children alike asking the question, why? Why would someone prey on a teen with the reputation of being a genuinely good person who volunteered his time at the local primary school? This is exactly what happened to Ronan Hughes.
Ronan was much loved by the students and teachers of St. Joesph’s Primary School in Donaghmore, Northern Ireland. In a report from Belfast Live, the school principal, Stephen Magennis, said that Hughes volunteered in his spare time to help three young students with their reading. Magennis also wanted to let the parents know just what drove the 17-year-old to take his own life on June 5.
“Ronan was the victim of ruthless, faceless people, intent on first befriending him and luring him into giving personal information and then sharing images that were used to threaten him in an attempt to extort money.”
Adding to the disturbing nature of the incident, it is believed that an international “gang of criminals” is responsible for this terrible act.
“This was not anyone from the school or the local area. The Police are sure this was an international gang of criminals, from a foreign country who prey on innocent young people throughout the world.”
The international group set up a Facebook fake account, and they tricked and deceived Ronan into sharing picture of himself. The criminals then attempted to extort money from the young man. The family and school are cooperating with law enforcement to try to determine who opened the Facebook fake account. Ronan’s principal, Geraldine Donnelly, said this incident is something more than just cyber-bullying.
“I think certainly from the conversations I have had with the PSNI it appears this is something different, more sinister than online or cyber-bullying.
“What we are possibly looking at here is some international element of Ronan having been targeted from abroad purely and only to extort and blackmail him for money.”
Police are using this tragic incident to educate parents and students so that they may not be tricked and deceived the way Ronan was. Mid-Ulster District Police Commander Mike Baird gave his advice on how to deal with online predators who might use social media to contact children and teenagers.
“If anyone has experienced anything of a similar nature or has received any inappropriate images or links, it is important that they contact Police or tell a trusted adult. By doing this you will be helping prevent further such incidents. You will not get into trouble.
“We all deserve to be able to use the internet to learn, explore and connect with each other. But all of us need to be aware of the risks involved in doing so, especially on social media. Our advice is:
• Don’t share personal information or images with people you don’t know;
• Don’t accept friend requests with someone you don’t know;
• Set your privacy settings on all devices;
• Don’t post anything online that you are not happy to be shared;
• If someone has made you feel uncomfortable or you have had disturbing interaction online, tell someone you trust.
Have you been tricked and deceived by a Facebook fake account? Is their any other advice you could give to young people when it comes to cyber-bullying? Please, let us know below.
[Photo by Belfast Live]