Parents of Teenager Who Took His Own Life After ‘Sextortion’ Highlight Dangers of Online Scams

Parents of Teenager Who Took His Own Life After ‘Sextortion’ Highlight Dangers of Online Scams
A record 2.7m online scams were taken down last year by the National Cyber Security Centre (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Katabella Roberts

The parents of a 17-year-old Michigan teenager who took his own life after being targeted in a “sextortion” scam online are warning parents to have “tough conversations” with their children about the dangers posed by such scams.

Jordan DeMay, from Marquette, Michigan, was found dead by law enforcement officers on March 25, 2022, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

His death prompted an investigation by the Marquette County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which culminated in the arrest of three Nigerian men who prosecutors say pretended to be female when they contacted the teenager on Instagram and coerced him into sexual communication.

The three men later compelled DeMay to send a nude photo of himself, according to prosecutors, which was then used to blackmail the teenager for $1,000.

“When we were informed that Jordan was potentially a victim of an internet scam called sextortion via Instagram, there was never a hesitation in our minds to share his story,” his mother, Jennifer Buta told reporters at a press conference with federal law enforcement officials on May 3.

“We wanted everyone to be aware about sextortion and have those tough conversations with their families so if it did happen to them, they knew to talk to someone,” Buta continued. “Our focus going forward is to bring more awareness to children, young adults, and parents. Our family has forever been changed by this heinous crime and our objective is to prevent another individual from being victimized.”

“Kids, teenagers, young adults, and even adults can be a target of sextortion. We urge you to have discussions about this and have a plan for your children to reach out if it does happen to them,” she added.

Suspects Arrested, Charged

The three men who scammed DeMay were identified by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan this week as Samuel Ogoshi, 22, Samson Ogoshi, 20, and Ezekiel Ejehem Robert, 19, all of Lagos, Nigeria.

According to prosecutors, the three individuals extorted or attempted to extort hundreds of young men and teenage boys in the Western District of Michigan and across the United States through hacked social media accounts that they purchased, pretending to be young women.

In targeting DeMay, prosecutors allege the men communicated with the teen through an Instagram account with the user name “dani.robertts” and used Google and other online tools to research more information about him, including where he went to school, worked, and who his family and friends were.

On the day of his death, DeMay was coerced by the men into sending a naked picture of himself, which was later used to extort $1,000 from him.

DeMay told the men that he didn’t “have that kind of money” and only $100 in cash along with $50 in Venmo. He later transferred $300 to the men but they continued to send him threatening messages demanding more money.

The teenager, described by his parents as a “role-model” son, later told the men that he was going to take his own life due to their demands, to which they responded, “Good, do that fast,” “enjoy your miserable life” and “I will make u commit suicide.”

Ogoshi has been charged with one count of Sexual Exploitation and Attempted Sexual Exploitation of a Minor Resulting in Death in relation to DeMay, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

All three men have been charged with Conspiracy to Sexually Exploit Minors for getting the children to send them pornographic images that were then used to blackmail them. They face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison each and a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.

‘Jordan’s Smile Could Light Up Any Room’

They have also been charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Child Pornography for sending child pornography images to minors, as well as their families and friends, and face up to 20 years behind bars for that charge.

A final count charges them with Conspiracy to Commit Stalking Through the Internet for engaging in the sextortion scheme 7 with the minors. That charge has a maximum penalty of five years behind bars.

The three men are in the process of being extradited to the United States, according to federal officials.

“Jordan’s smile could light up any room,” Buta told reporters during Wednesday’s press conference. “Jordan’s charm and beautiful smile were contagious. Drawing people to him wherever he went and leaving a lasting impression on everyone he met. He wanted to connect and be everyone’s friend and he did just that. As parents, we cannot begin to imagine what Jordan went through that night and how scared he was because of this senseless act.

In January, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, issued a public safety alert warning of an “explosion” in incidents of children and teens being coerced into sending explicit images online and extorted for money.

According to the agency, more than 3,000 minor victims, primarily boys, were targeted in such scams last year throughout the country.

“Financial sextortion is a global crisis that impacts teens in our country and around the globe,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan in a statement. “That’s why the FBI is working hand in hand with our domestic and international law enforcement partners to prevent youth from becoming victims of this tragic crime and to hold those who target our teens in this manner accountable – no matter where in the world they may be.”

If You Are Having Suicidal Thoughts

If you live in the United States and are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for free and confidential support. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For crisis support in Spanish, call 888-628-9454.
Crisis Text Line provides a live, trained crisis counselor via a simple text for help.
The National Health Service also lists a variety of resources on its website.
Befrienders Worldwide has created a help app that connects users to the nearest emotional support center for the part of the world they live in—it will run on a PC desktop or mobile phone.
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