Young Singaporean girl selling phone online tricked, lured and fondled by man posing as student
This story will open your eyes to the dangers that lurk behind the anonymity of the Internet. Please read and share the tips in this article with your children without fail.
12-year-old Stella (not her real name) is quite the young entrepreneur, and thoroughly enjoys doing business online.
According to a Straits Times report (2 November 2015), Stella would use online marketplace Carousell almost every day to chat with strangers interested to find out more about the items she was selling.
The items she usually put up for sale were things like stationary, old clothes and game cards, and they helped the young girl make around $50 a month.
In March this year, Stella's parents gave her their old iPhone 4. Wanting to make a quick buck, she reportedly lost no time in putting the phone up for sale on Carousell.
In just a matter of days, she had a buyer, who said he was a secondary school student. He offered to give $30 more for the phone than she wanted, so a deal was struck.
They "exchanged numbers and arranged to meet at a void deck near her house shortly after."
When Stella arrived there, she was shocked to see that the buyer was not a student, but a man in his 20s who had gold-dyed hair.
When questioned about his identity by the girl, the man said he was only there to buy the phone.
But "as he checked the phone, he began making small talk and sexual advances towards her", such as trying to hold her hands and asking her if she wanted to hang out with him.
When Stella refused, he reportedly threatened to leave with her phone. The Straits Times report says the young girl followed the man "to a nearby McDonald's, thinking she would go off after attempting to get her phone back."
Along the way, the man fondled her and she alerted a passer-by about what was happening. Reports say that when the passer-by shouted at the man, he ran off with the phone.
Tough lesson learned
Stella, who understandably was quite emotionally distraught, spoke of her saga to her school counsellor.
She still sells goods on Carousell, but now she always meets her buyers in a public place and her parent always accompany her.
If your older children, like Stella, sell things online, please advise them to always keep these safety tips (adapted from The Straits Times report) in mind, especially if they are meeting someone they first met online:
- Always meet the person in a public place, for example, a mall or MRT station.
- Get a trusted friend or even parent to accompany you.
- If the person you meet makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, tries to touch you inappropriately or talks about sex, walk away as fast as you can. Remember to tell your parents as soon as possible about this person, and block him/her off your account.
- Always keep your parents in the know about who you are meeting and where you'll be meeting this person.
- If possible, take a picture or video of the meeting. This way, you have evidence to help identify the perpetrator if things go wrong.
Touch Cyber Wellness manager Chong Ee Jay, who told Stella's story to The Straits Times, says: "Sometimes young people have promising ideas, and we should not short-change their learning when engaging with new technologies. But proper guidance from mentors is essential."
We couldn't agree more with Mr Chong.
Read this informative theAsianparent article for more Internet safety tips for kids.
Do share you own tips on how kids can stay safe online -- just post a comment below.