The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have alerted us to a rise in scams from April using the Google Hangouts platform.
What is Google Hangouts?
Hangouts is a free instant video, chat and messaging platform. It is available across platforms and allows users to have group video calls and chats anywhere in the world with two or more users. Like many other video messaging platforms, its use has surged during the pandemic.
What are the concerns?
We have been asked to circulate a digital safeguarding alert to parents, carers and the public regarding a scam on this platform
The PSNI have reported a surge in scams, financial coercion and extortion of children on the platform
Scammers are reportedly building rapport with vulnerable SEND young people, which resulted in attempts to extort money in the form of Amazon vouchers
Top tips for safety on the platform
Children and young people should only talk to people they know on the platform. They should not share their email on other platforms as this allows others to call them on Hangouts
Take time to understand the platforms children in your care are using, if they use Google Hangouts you should use the platform together to understand the blocking and reporting functions
Young people should be encouraged to be vigilant of people befriending them on platforms and asking for money either by direct transfer or gift vouchers