A Michigan teenager’s devastating suicide has shed light on the alarming rise of sextortion cases involving vulnerable young individuals on social media platforms. Jordan DeMay, a 17-year-old high school student, tragically took his own life after falling victim to a Nigerian man’s extortion scheme on Instagram.
The perpetrator, 22-year-old Samuel Ogoshi, was one of three suspects arrested in Lagos for hacking Instagram accounts and engaging in sexual extortion, or “sextortion,” targeting over 100 young men. Sextortion is a serious crime in which perpetrators threaten to expose sensitive or private information unless victims comply with their demands.
In Jordan’s case, he believed he was chatting with a woman named “dani.robertts” on Instagram. However, the account had been hacked and sold to Ogoshi, who coerced young men into sending explicit photos. Ogoshi used these photos as leverage for financial gain, demanding money from his victims to prevent exposure.
The tragic events unfolded when Jordan sent an explicit photo of himself after being threatened. Ogoshi demanded $1,000, and when Jordan sent only $300, the extortionist threatened to expose him to his family and friends. Distraught, Jordan expressed his intention to end his own life. Shockingly, Ogoshi callously encouraged him to do so, adding further emotional torment to the vulnerable teenager.
Federal authorities have since charged Ogoshi with causing Jordan DeMay’s death, highlighting the severe consequences of such heinous actions.
These distressing incidents are not isolated and reflect a growing trend of sextortion victimizing teenagers across the United States and beyond. Perpetrators often pose as attractive individuals online, gaining their victims’ trust and coaxing them into sending explicit photos. Once in possession of these photos, the perpetrators threaten to share them unless victims comply with their demands for money, personal information, or more explicit images.
A 2018 study published in JAMA Pediatrics revealed that nearly 15% of American youth were sending sexts, while 27% were receiving them. The hidden pandemic of sextortion is reaching alarming proportions.
Parents and teenagers must be aware of the risks associated with sextortion and be prepared to respond effectively if targeted or if someone they know becomes a victim. Experts recommend that victims immediately turn off their phones and contact law enforcement or the FBI. Communication with strangers online can have dangerous consequences, as predators skillfully create profiles that match their victims’ preferences, exploiting their vulnerability.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline reported approximately 32 million suspected cases of child sexual exploitation in 2022 alone. The online enticement category of the CyberTipline witnessed an 82% increase in complaints between 2021 and 2022, indicating the urgent need for action.
It is crucial for social media platforms, such as Instagram, to strengthen their safety measures to protect vulnerable teens from sextortion schemes. Cooperation with law enforcement and proactive measures are essential in bringing the perpetrators of these horrific crimes to justice.
The heartbreaking tragedy of Jordan DeMay serves as a stark reminder that greater efforts are needed to safeguard teenagers from online predators and to create a safer digital environment for all young individuals.