Online Catfishing and Student Safety

The State Police have issued a serious warning about an uptick in catfishing schemes targeting teens.  Online predators target teens, gain their trust, convince the teens to send them compromising pictures and then threaten to expose them unless the teen pays them off.

In one such instance, 15-year-old Riley Basford of Potsdam was lured into a scam.  The predator spent time earning his trust online before persuading him to send the photos. The fraudster then bombarded Basford with demands for $3,500, threatening to send the photos to family and friends.  Riley was manipulated and blackmailed to the point that he felt trapped and was unable to see a way out. He panicked. Riley died by suicide.

Our Social Media & Digital Citizenship course takes a proactive stance on the risks that new technologies and social media platforms bring.  It addresses topics around Digital Diligence and how people may not always be who they say they are.  Our proactive program promotes digital awareness and focuses on issues regarding internet safety, identity, and digital footprint.

You can never remind your kids too much about the dangers that exist online. Tell them they can always come to you for help, no matter what. And if they aren’t comfortable, there are professionals like your school counselors and social workers that can be confidential allies. A call to the national suicide prevention hotline is picked up no matter what time of day it is. Here’s the number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Please refer to the links below for additional information.


‘He did not want to die’: Family of Potsdam 15-year-old who died by suicide after apparent manipulation spreads message ______________________

North Colonie schools talk internet safety after upstate student’s suicide in catfishing scam


Police investigate predators extorting teens on  social media

Posted in District.