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Parents in Northern Ireland warned of online drugs scam

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The PSNI has issued a fresh warning about an online scam that tricks young people into entering competitions which offer supposed winners drugs as a 'prize'

The PSNI has issued a fresh warning about an online scam that tricks young people into entering competitions which offer supposed winners drugs as a 'prize'

The PSNI has issued a fresh warning about an online scam that tricks young people into entering competitions which offer supposed winners drugs as a 'prize'

The PSNI has issued a fresh warning about an online scam that tricks young people into entering competitions which offer supposed winners drugs as a 'prize'.

Police in Co Armagh were alerted to the tactic by a concerned parent who recently discovered the swindle on her child's phone.

In a social media post which appeared on the PSNI Craigavon Facebook page, officers warned internet fraudsters are now devising these competitions.

"The purpose of such scams is for people to order drugs online and provide financial details to make the purchase," the post explained.

"Needless to say the drugs never appear and the purchaser can't go to police to report they got scammed trying to buy drugs."

PSNI Craigavon stressed what is a great cause of alarm is the fact very often these competitions are designed to attract young people.

The post urged parents to have "difficult conversations" with their children about the dangers of drugs and online scammers.

"What if your child was being blackmailed by some scammer threatening to publicise that they have tried to buy illegal drugs online?" it added.

"Imagine the stress that would put on a child. Imagine what could happen then... Doesn't bear thinking about does it?"

Koulla Yiasouma, NI Commissioner for Children and Young people, said this switch in tactic by fraudsters was evidence that more should be done by social media companies to protect young people.

"It is deeply concerning that children and young people are being targeted by criminals in this way when they are online," she said.

"It highlights the importance of children feeling they can talk to family, teachers, police and others about any messages they or their friends are being sent, and that they get any support they need."

She continued: "It reminds all of us, including technology companies, that we need to do everything we can to better protect children when they are online."

Ms Yiasouma also welcomed new tighter UK social media regulations announced yesterday by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)

The watchdog has published a 15-point Age Appropriate Design Code which outlines stricter standards for technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to protect children's privacy online.

The ICO hopes the new code will come into operation by autumn next year.

The Children's Commissioner hailed the development as an important milestone, saying: "It sets the standards that online companies will be expected to comply with to ensure that children can engage with connected technologies and social media safely."

Belfast Telegraph