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11 year old scammed by friend(29 Posts)
First time ever posting on mumsnet but I’m really struggling and could do with some help/advice/support. My 11 year old son (soon to be 12) started secondary school last September. He’s gone to a selective grammar school outside of the area so no friends from primary, but most other kids in a similar position. He’d not really mentioned any specific friends but has always been more friendly with kids as a group rather than individuals. Back in March he went to PGL and came back saying it had been rubbish, and ultimately had a meltdown saying we were too strict as parents and people were picking on him because of it. We put this down to tiredness and when I tried to discuss it with him, he wouldn’t elaborate and assured me everything was ok at school. Every now and then I check his WhatsApp messages, and I couldn’t find any evidence of ‘bullying’ apart from a few minor banter-type messages which didn’t really concern me.
During lockdown, his main way of communicating with friends has been on WhatsApp and on the Xbox. He’s not wanted to FaceTime or zoom anyone, we’ve checked a few times.
Last night he was adamant he wanted to go on Fifa (Xbox game) as he had some players to trade. We limit access but I let him on it, but because he was so adamant about it I asked what was happening. Basically, one of his ‘friends’ from school had said to him that if he bought certain players then he had a friend who would give him millions of fifa coins. So basically, my son would use his fifa coins (virtual coins you earn through playing and trading players) to buy certain players, and this guy was going to transfer him millions of coins in return. It was clearly a scam, and I told my son this but he said I was being negative and that it would work 🙈anyway, he carried on and spent 200,000 coins. Obvs no millions of coins appeared. He got upset and went to bed, I tried to comfort him and assure him that it didn’t matter. He’d not lost actual money it was just virtual stuff.
So when he went to bed my husband and I read his WhatsApp messages and turns out that this ‘friend’ had done exactly the same to him at easter, and another ‘friend’ had done it before too. We’re obvs concerned about a few things, like he’s too trusting, and his ‘friends’ are basically not friends at all. He woke up in the night and wanted me, he was crying and told me this boy had done it twice before and he was really stupid for falling for it. I kind of agree but don’t want to say that to him!! My son is a really bright, funny, intelligent kid. But it’s so frustrating that he seems to struggle socially and also is so gullible to fall for this. Anyone been through anything vaguely similar who has any words of wisdom? Thanks in advance, and well done if you read this far! x
Ahhh bless him, and you for being such a caring mum. It’s good he told you, especially when he feels embarrassed He’s been ‘scammed’ before.
Someone will come on and give really good advice soon. But I think in order to raise his self esteem enrol him in drama. It’s really good for kids as it can help him develop a persona or act when they feel uncomfortable in a situation. Do you think he might go for something like that.?
Thanks for the reply! I have thought of drama before but he’s so reluctant to try new things, and has refused. My youngest son does it, and loves it. I may try to offer it up again but not hopeful x
I wonder if he’s aware that he’s going to be scammed but struggles with asserting himself. Rather than being gullible. Like he worries he will damage the friendship if he says no. So maybe he could practice some scenarios and figure out ways of saying no that he’s happy with.
Yes possibly. Hadn’t thought of that. In the WhatsApp messages the other boy is really forceful. My son says no, it’s a scam, but the other boy is so insistent and badgering that in the end he falls for it. We’re definitely going to have a chat with him about it so will bear this in mind. Thanks x
I'd talk to the school too. A very bright child who struggles socially, is being long term bullied (as this is what it is) and isn't able to see scams even multiple times sounds like he might need extra support - one of mine is the same and though it may well not be the same for yours, my DS is on the ASD assessment pathway on advice of the school.
Of course it's hard for the school to do much right now in the current situation, but at least they know, and they might have resources. At my school the teachers are not engaging with us much at all, but reading MN it sounds like every other teacher is being run ragged... So assuming that truly is the case, there might still be support, even if it's reduced.
I also think it's good that he told you. And you handled it well too. It telling him you agreed that he'd been daft to fall for it!
I've always made my two (now teenagers) do two 'hobbies'. They spent their primary years in another country so I needed them to have more than just their school friends in their lives. Similarly, when we came back to the UK having outside interests and something that they were slightly better at it knew more about helped them find their feet.
There is so much stuff that they can do, it doesn't have to be the ordinary things like football and swimming. If he's interested in FIFA does he go and watch the actual football? All of these experiences are what gives you confidence.
As a parent whose children also went to a school without friends from primary school I will say that playing xbox games together is a way of making friends, they play it together or they talk about their matches.
We had to bear this in mind when Ds1 started year 7. I only say this because you said "We limit access" As a glimpse of hope for you, Ds1 played a lot on his xbox to make and retain friendships, communicating over headset but all his homework was done, he went on to achieve incredible GCSE grades and is now in year 12. Your son is only year 7. Let him play a bit more.
I would tell your son that friends don't do that to each other and see if there is anyone else he could be playing online with. This is one of the hardest things to navigate. Because now if he continues to play online with them it tells them he is willing to be treated this way. I would let him play more fifa today but not with that child. Leave him visible so he can be seen playing ie don't make him invisible and if the friend asks to play he says not today.
How much does 200,000 coins cost? I’ve googled but it’s not very clear!
My answer will be different if it’s £2 or £20.
My son doesn't have many close friends at school I think he just kind of follows some around, we had a similar incident. Maybe your son felt that if he didn't do it they wouldn't be friends with him and he would be totally alone. Obviously they aren't real friends, but if they are the only ones he has he was probably desperate to keep them. Its difficult isnt it. I'd speak to the school, although it's not violent bullying it's still bullying and they should be aware of it. My sons school were very good, I thought they wouldn't be interested but they keep an eye on him and we just try and talk to him and get him to tell us anything that happens. It's great he told you about it himself, that's a definitive positive
I'd say he needs friends outside school - a hobby or interest, or even joining a charity or a group with a purpose such as the Scouts.
Year 7 is really tricky to manage with regards to friendships and online comms / gaming. Even in non-corrona times, there's often a year-long power struggle in Y7 where new friendships are formed, tested and (importantly) the process of realisation that this person 'isn't my type' is an important learning curve. This is especially difficult and different currently because these normal rights of passage can only be done online.
I suspect this is more your sons inability to assert himself (in a year 7 kind of way, which more involves detaching, walking away and ignoring rather than keep saying no, which you said he already did).
Also, its a learning curve in Y7 to go from assuming friendship from all through to finding Your People. I bet he's not often had to make and then consciously reject friendships before. In primary school friendships involve making friends and breaking friends. This isn't a situation of falling out, more just walking away without any drama or negativity, just accepting this isn't a friendship to continue.
Bless him. He needs to stand up for himself and be more assertive generally. And yes, report to HoY.
How many boys in his year? Will he find similar friends eventually, be they studious, geeky, mild, or whatever?
It's very important to have a couple of mates.
I would definitely flag to school, I know despite Corona there was an "incident" on the year group whatsapp that was apparently very nasty and the Head sent quite the sternly worded email out to all parents that the virus didn't mean we could take our foot off the brakes as it were to watching their behaviour online. It was also year 7 but DS was added quite early on, saw it was not very nice and left along with his little circle who now have their own little group chat. It was all over the Parent Facebook group as well and got quite heated between the "kids being kids" lot and the "your kids are bullying arseholes" lot.
It's not ok to scam your friend several times and I wonder could he flag it to XBox live to get his coins back? I think they do restrict players if they scam people. Although if he's only targeting your DS perhaps it's best not to due to backlash.
I think it's important to highlight to him that he does not have to be friends with him.
Has he still got friends from Primary that he could play with?
Id talk to your son about why he thinks the other lad is doing it, why even though he knows it’s a scam - he clearly dies, does he continue ?
He may want desperately to “belong” be part of this peer group and you’ll see he’s banging his head on. Brick wall but he can’t
Tell him to pick his friends wisely and it’s not always the people you think that will make the best friends
Chat about friendships and how he sees it working
I’d block that non-friend on your son’s phone to remove the immediate pressure and then invest some time in role-playing establishing boundaries, saying no and extracting himself from situations like that.
Is the other kid the same age? If I were their parent I would really want to know?
Thanks everyone. Lots to take in...
For info, I’ve always done lots of extra curricular stuff with my boys but his has dwindled down to football and cricket, both of which affected by lockdown!
We limit Xbox time as he shares it with his brother, and if we didn’t limit it we’d have wwIII on our hands! We haven’t been too strict on how long they’re on it due to lockdown, he also has a laptop and phone... not exactly deprived!
One of the problems is that they haven’t really established their friendship groups yet, with it being year 7 and most of the kids are new to each other, it’s all a bit unusual. I think the ‘scammer’ has a friend from primary in his form so maybe that’s given him extra confidence in being a little swine towards other kids. I only have the contact number for one of the mums as I was kind of waiting for him to get a group of friends and work it that way...
The thing that’s interesting to me is he doesn’t actually play with this boy on Xbox, he’s been playing with his primary school friends. So maybe it is a bit of trying to get in with some kids from school? I’m going to have a chat with him and try and sort it. Been great to hear different viewpoints and air my worries!! I feel like this is the most anxiety-inducing part of parenthood so far x
Hope you sort things out, I’m sure if you ask lots of open questions there will be lots to listen to & work with to make life easier
Just to say that when my middle son was about the same age he had some social difficulties- amongst other strategies I bought him a book called Bullies, Bigmouths and So-Called Friends. He read it a lot - several times- & said he found it helpful.
I would definitely bring this up with the head of year. Scamming is scamming, whatever the age of those involved.
Giving your son the chance to talk about the difficulties- knowing he will be understood and loved & accepted - is so important. It sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing. So he knows he has a safe space & support. Poor young man, I hope things get better. He’s fortunate to have such a caring mother.
Something similar happened to my son about 10 years ago.
I had nipped out and just walked through the front door and son was crying.
He had been playing some civilisation type game and a 'girl' said she would give so many points if he gave her something.. I cant remember what. Anyway he was scammed.
I let him rant and told him once he calmed down that he was a bloody fool for trusting people you dont know on the internet and thank christ it was just a computer game!! He was told to wise up there and then otherwise he would fend his life by being scammed.
We had to have an internet safety refresh after that!
Nothing to add, but just wanted to say you sound like a fantastic, sensitive and sensible mother, and he sounds like an absolute sweetheart! ❤️