The Internet is everywhere these days and it is used by young and old alike whether for play, learning or business. The risk to all of us, but especially the vulnerable, our youth and our seniors is posing a real opportunity for the criminal element.

Millions of children between the ages of 10 and 17 use the internet regularly and the numbers keep climbing. The growth of the Internet presents some special child safety issues for parents. There is increased need for parents to educate themselves about the serious potential dangers to their children from going online. Surveys have shown that one child in seventeen has felt threatened or harassed. One child in five has received a sexual solicitation. One child in four has been exposed to unwanted sexual material.

Most never tell parents about such encounters. Children are also exposed to other risks from online use. Some are using the Internet as a source on how to find illegal drugs, instructions for making explosives, a place to view pornography, and other improper activities.

As more elderly use the Internet, the potential for Internet fraud that targets the elderly grows. Compared with scams that use mail or telephone, the Internet opens new markets for criminals by greatly multiplying the potential number of victims as well as reducing the cost with which the scam can be carried out.

The elderly are natural targets for some of the most common fraudulent schemes that deal with “miracle” medicinal products and “to-good-to-be-true” investment scams. The elderly are especially vulnerable to “pushing” or forged e-mail messages aimed at stealing credit card account numbers, bank account numbers, passwords or Social Insurance Numbers. Often these mass mailings appear to be from a bank or government agency and use scare tactics, such as threats to close an account.

Parents, youth, the elderly, those who are looking after the elderly and everyone else is invited to attend free seminar entitled “Meeting the Challenge – Internet Risks”, hosted by the West Grey Police Service and being held at the Durham Community Centre on Monday, June 9, 2008 at 6:30 P.M. Our guest speaker will be Sergeant Robyn MacEachern, Youth Issues Co-ordinator of the Ontario Provincial Police Crime Prevention Section. This is guaranteed to be a very informative, educational event.

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