MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) – It’s a scary thought for anyone: Someone else using your name, your picture and your online accounts to spread vulgar messages to your friends, coworkers and family.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly the spot Harrison Smith found himself in Wednesday evening after his social media accounts were hijacked by a cyber crook, and danger was sliding into his DM’s.
Speaking to KFOR Thursday, Harrison and his mom said they were speaking out to help others think twice before they interact online.
The 19-year-old said he thought the woman behind a Snapchat and Instagram account looked familiar; turns out it was a cyber crook.
After a brief conversation online, he said the account holder was suddenly sending vulgar messages, contacting him using a video call, demanding money and threatening to ruin his life by sending lewd photos and messages to his friends and followers.
“[They said] if you don’t give me $2,000 we’re going to send all these pictures out to your followers on Instagram,” said Harrison, saying the content the account was sending him and also to others on his behalf was inappropriate and disgusting.
“I’m going [to college] to play baseball,” said Harrison. “[I was thinking], however this goes down, there is no way I’m going to end up looking good in this.”
His mom told KFOR they took action right away by contacting the police, blocking the fake accounts and setting up new social media profiles and passwords.
Jenny Smith, Harrison’s mom said while they never had any plans to turn over the cash, she was furious at the situation.
“If I knew where they were, I would go there and claw their eyes out,” said Jenny Smith. “If you’re smart enough to do this type of thing to someone, how about you use those smarts for good.”
Smith told KFOR they were able to trace the location of the account to Ohio but couldn’t find other definitive information to help identify the criminal.
Experts say schemes targeting teens are on the rise and it’s important to take internet security seriously.
“Don’t give them anything, don’t meet them in person, don’t accept phone calls,” said social media expert Patrick Allmond.
“Keep a record of everything and contact the authorities as soon as possible,” he added.
Harrison and his mother told KFOR they hope their story will help others.
“You’ve got to know what your kids are doing online because there are predators out there everywhere,” said Jenny.
“Don’t fall into the trap,” added Harrison. “Just don’t even bother responding cause I mean you could end up in a world that you do not want to end up in.”