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She couldn’t understand what had made her kind, handsome son — a popular sixth-form student at Windsor Boys’ School, who won prizes for good behaviour — take his own life.
Hours later, Joseph was dead, the victim of a despicable internet scam that froze his computer, accused him of visiting illegal websites and made fake threats of imprisonment.
This version claimed to come from the Cheshire Police Force — apparently chosen at random, but with convincing logos and headings — and told Joe his computer was locked because of illegal activity, citing extreme pornography, breach of copyright (the use of film and music pirating sites) and even visiting sites that promote terrorism.
Written in a spurious police jargon, quoting made-up ‘Articles’ of the British ‘Criminal Code’, the scam threatens the surfer with a fine of £100,000 or a nine-year prison term; and then asks for a £100 fee to unlock the computer.
They’re working with anonymous virtual currencies like Ukash or Bitcoin, and with incredibly transient, short-term accounts.
Joseph, aged 9, with his sister Georgia in Algarve on holiday.