Lesson Spotlight: Online Scams

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Link to Catfishing and Other Scams Unit

This online safety unit will give your students better tools to be media literate and to stay safer online. Teaching students to be more savvy online is a critical skill now more than ever. According to The Federal Trade Commission, “Many people think scams mostly affect older adults. But reports to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel tell a different story: anyone can be scammed. In fact, reports suggest that many scams are harming younger people more than older adults. While there’s more to the story, the broad theme is that scams affect every age group, but differently.” source This unit focuses on online scammers. There are Youtube videos in this unit to help students understand the characteristics of various scams so they can adequately determine if they should engage with these people or scenarios online. Real life scenarios are provided and students must do online research in order to determine what is going on in each possible scam. There is an answer key for each scenario that provides a video that demonstrates how the problems were solved. 

This is my story behind making this unit. I have taught students about online safety for over 17 years. This unit is important if we want our society to be safe from predators. I have been invited to “friend” people that were most likely scammers ever since I became active on various social media platforms. I use Facebook for friends and family, so I rarely accept strangers as friends on that platform. I use Instagram and Twitter to try and promote my educational products and learn from other educators. With that said, I do accept invitations on those platforms under certain criteria. For instance, I mostly follow educators on Twitter to learn from them. I am selective on these platforms by choosing reputable and credible people. I usually do a quick check on invitations to see if they are legitimate. I recently got an invitation to follow this man that was highly questionable. He was much younger than me and very attractive. I checked him out and sure enough, he was stealing someone else’s identity. I decided to friend him to play along. I wanted to wait long enough until he started asking me for money, but was feeling strange “flirting” with a stranger while happily married, so I stopped it. Within a couple of days of conversing, he started to tell me how much he liked me and had feelings for me. I found this very odd and couldn’t believe people fall for this. He was literally copying and pasting words from sites to try to charm me. He did call me with voice and certainly sounded African. He was supposedly born in Germany and lives in New York. I have been to Germany and know what a German accent sounds like. It probably helps that I am well aware of scammers, am worldly, am not lonely and am happily married. I unfollowed him and he still continued to chat with me and he asked why I didn’t like him. I told him I was married, but for some reason, he thinks he can gain my interest and trust and maybe likes the challenge. Eventually, I did block him because I didn’t appreciate the persistence after I said no more! For the record, the man in the photo was roughly 30 years younger than me and he was model material. 

If you like this unit, you might like my Digital Footprints or my Fake News Unit

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