Online, things are not always what they seem

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A phone with the YouTube logo

This morning I woke up and like every day before I even open my second eye, I get my phone from under my pillow and check my notifications. As usual, for more than 30 minutes I answer all of my friends and check the news on Snapchat, my favourite ‘newspaper’.

After breakfast, I go back to my room and sit on my computer to watch the latest videos of my favourite YouTubers.

My phone starts vibrating - a new notification! One of my favourite YouTubers has subscribed to my page. Proud of myself, I go back to my business. One video, two videos, then I think it would be nice of me to thank him. Going to his page, I realize that he is running a contest to win the latest iPhone.

Why don't I take my chance?

So I send him a short text to thank him and ask him how I could participate in this famous competition. A few minutes later, my new friend answers me!

Very nice, he calls me by my nickname and explains that I just have to fill out a form to receive my brand new phone.

AMAZING! I hasten to click on the link he sends me and start filling out the form: Name, first name, age, address... Well... Okay, I lied about my age it's true, but at 11 years old I can never participate in these games.

I continue: telephone, email... And now it's time to choose the colour of my phone and the different accessories.

I enter my information, and receive an email that tells me that my profile is validated and that the phone will be sent after the last step!

Supeeeer, so I click on the link. And for the final step, I just have to pay the shipping costs of my new phone that will arrive in 4 days at my home.

So I go through Mom's purse to get her credit card and fill in the information... She will be so happy to see how social networks can be useful for me!

It's all validated! Only a few days left before I receive my prize!

I hasten to click on the link he sends me and start filling out the form: Name, first name, age, address... Well... Okay, I lied about my age it's true, but at 11 years old I can never participate in these games.

The next day, Mom comes home from work earlier than usual. I hear her on the phone - she sounds very upset. She's telling Dad about a big purchase he made on Monday.

After my shower, my Dad asks me if I know why a very large amount was withdrawn from their bank account on Monday.

A few minutes of trying to lie, without success, I explain to them that I just borrowed Mom's card to pay for the delivery of my prize. I show them the messages and emails I had received so they will trust me.

After yelling at me for several minutes, Dad explained that I was the victim of a social networking scam. It consists of someone posing as a known person to promote fake contests, to take money from naive young people like me.

So I advise you to be careful who you talk to on social networks if you don't want your parents to confiscate your phone and computer like me…

After yelling at me for several minutes, Dad explained that I was the victim of a social networking scam.

By the way, I forgot to introduce myself! My name is Amine and I am currently 19 years old. It was my 11-year-old little brother who inspired me throughout this story. At his age, he is already involved in social networks, and I think that without me, this story could have been a reality for him.

I think that the young European population should be better informed in order to avoid this type of problem and to enable them to navigate the internet safely. Whether through advertising or at school, any means can be used to raise awareness.

About me:  I’m Amine, 19 years and I let you guess where I from :) 

Since my return from my European Voluntary Serivce (EVS) in Bulgaria, more motivated than ever, I’m working in a logistics company. Before the EVS, I had a lot of questions about my future, and I thought travel might be a good idea to learn more. In search of adventure and discovery, Bulgaria, unknown to me before, was a perfect destination ( I’LL BE BACK! ).

Children and young people are one of Europe’s greatest assets. For the European Parliament elections in May, Voices of Youth is running a special blogging series to ensure that the opinions and voices of children and young people and heard during the elections and by incoming European politicians.

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