Skip to main content

Reports: Teen Daniel Perry commits suicide over Skype blackmail scam

By Laura Smith-Spark and Saskya Vandoorne, CNN
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri August 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Funeral held for Hannah Smith, 14; family says her suicide followed online bullying
  • Daniel Perry took his own life after he fell victim to a Web blackmail scam, UK reports say
  • "Heart-rending that a young person could be deceived in such a way," charity says
  • Police in Scotland say they are investigating a teenage boy's suicide

London (CNN) -- Reports that a Scottish teenager took his own life after becoming the victim of an alleged Internet blackmail scam have heightened concerns in Britain over online abuse.

Daniel Perry, from Dunfermline, was reportedly the victim of blackmailers who recorded his interactions via Skype with a person he believed was an American girl his own age.

They then threatened to show his family the footage unless he paid up, UK media reports say. Instead, the 17-year-old jumped from a bridge last month.

News of his death comes on the heels of outrage over the suicide of 14-year-old Hannah Smith, from Leicestershire in England. Her family said she took her own life after she was bullied on the social networking website ask.fm, having gone there to seek advice on the skin condition eczema.

Her funeral was held Friday at St. Mary's Church in her hometown of Lutterworth.

David Cameron: 'Don't go there'
Two arrested in cyberbullying case
Policing the Web for cyberbullies

The mourners were asked by Hannah's father to wear brightly colored clothes, not black, the church's vicar, the Rev. Charlie Styles, said in an online statement beforehand.

Styles said the informal service would "provide a focal point for the community in a time of shock and great sadness."

Daniel was also taunted and urged to kill himself by trolls on the Ask.fm website, The Daily Telegraph newspaper said.

The Telegraph quoted Daniel's mother, Nicola, on Friday as saying the people behind the video scam he fell prey to are "clever and dangerous" and had manipulated the footage.

"He wasn't doing anything wrong, just what anyone his age might do, but this scam is all about exploiting young people," she said.

Police in Scotland told CNN they are investigating the circumstances of a teenage boy's death. They declined to identify him or give further details.

A leading UK children's protection charity, the NSPCC, urged children and young people to find out how to protect themselves online -- and to seek help if they found themselves targeted by bullies or blackmailers.

"It's absolutely heart-rending that a young person could be deceived in such a way, with such a tragic outcome and our thoughts are with this young man's family," said Elaine Chalmers, area manager for the NSPCC's helpline in Scotland.

"If you've only seen a static picture of someone online, they may not be who they say they are. It's important not to send people pictures of yourself or take part in video calls if you aren't sure who you are speaking to.

"If you have been deceived online, you need to remember that you aren't to blame and you are not the only person that this has happened to."

Beatbullying, an international bullying prevention charity, has called for a boycott of ask.fm. Some companies pulled their advertising in protest over Hannah's death.

Ask.fm said it was ready to work with the police in that case. "We would like to reassure all users and parents of users that we are committed to ensuring that our site is a safe environment," the site said. "We do not condone bullying of any kind, or any form of unacceptable use of our site."

Read: 2 face charges in case of Canadian girl who hanged self after alleged rape

News stream blog: How to fight online bullies

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT