POLICE are investigating the death of a teenager who committed suicide after reports that he became caught up in a webcam blackmail plot.
The 17-year-old from Dunfermline in Fife, whose family asked that he remain anonymous, took part in online Skype conversations with someone he believed to be a girl of the same age.
Afterwards, he was contacted and told that a recording of the Skype conversations would be sent to his family unless he paid money into a bank account. The anonymous user told the teenager he would be “better off dead” if he did not pay up.
The following day, 15 July, his body was found in the Firth of Forth.
Yesterday, the teenager’s mother said: “Knowing him as I do, he has felt embarrassed, horrified, and has thought he’s let everybody down.
“He was coming up for his 18th birthday so it’s not as if we could have been checking what he was doing on his laptop. However, he wasn’t doing anything wrong, just what anyone his age might do, but this scam is all about exploiting young people.
“Even if he came to me and said he needed money, we’d have helped him but we knew nothing about any of it.
“He was not the type of person who let things get him down. He was a happy laddie, not depressed and the last type of person you would think would take their life.
“We’re a very close family and I just wished he had come to me and said something.”
The online scam operates by convincing young men that they are having chatroom conversations with a girl but in fact they are being recorded.
The blackmailers then find out personal details of their prey from social media sites, including Facebook, and threaten to send the video to friends and family.
On the day of his death, the teenager had posted his Skype details on his Twitter account telling followers to “Skype me”.
Shortly before he died, the youngster had asked the blackmailers via his laptop: “What can I do to stop you showing this to my family?”
He was then told to pay funds into a named bank account or his life would not be worth living. He replied: “Bye.”
That evening, he was rescued by a lifeboat crew but died shortly afterwards.
His mother said: “When I feel strong enough, I want to do something to stop this happening to other young people. I’ll go to the high schools and tell them what can happen.
“If I can stop this from happening to other young people then I feel I’ll have done something for him.”
She added: “He was the type to laugh things off. I still can’t believe this has happened and expect him to walk in the door any minute.”
At his funeral, which was held at the Dunfermline Crematorium, £700 was raised for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the family thanked the Queensferry unit’s rapid response team paramedics for their help.
Police Scotland confirmed that they had launched an investigation into the death. A spokesman said: “Police are investigating the cause and the case of a teenage boy who died last month.”
Earlier this month, teenager Hannah Smith, who had been bullied online while using the social networking site Ask.fm, was found by her sister at their home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire after taking her own life.