A teen’s death in a small Michigan town led the FBI and police to an online sexual extortion scheme

Oct 14, 2023, 12:03 PM

FILE - FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a House Committee on the Judiciary oversight ...

FILE - FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a House Committee on the Judiciary oversight hearing, July 12, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Wray spoke to one of the nation's largest police groups on Saturday, Oct. 14 about how the agency works with police around the country, including helping secure an indictment against two men accused in the death of a small-town Michigan teenager caught in an international online sexual extortion scheme. There's recently been a sharp in increase in such cases. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Last year, a teenager in a small Michigan town killed himself after an online chat turned to demands that he pay money to keep intimate photos secret. He was one of dozens of people targeted online by two men extradited from Nigeria to face charges, FBI director Christopher Wray said Saturday.

The arrests came after the FBI joined with police in Michigan to investigate the death of 17-year-old Jordan DeMay, one thousands of American teenagers targeted in a sharp rise in online “sextortion” cases in recent years.

“They will face charges in the U.S. for what they did to Jordan, but also unfortunately, a whole bunch of other young men and teenage boys,” Wray said in an interview with The Associated Press. “You’re talking about a crime that doesn’t respect borders. We make sure our partnerships don’t have any borders either.”

Wray highlighted the case in a speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police about the ways the agency assists police in tackling violent crime, fentanyl and gangs. In a year where tensions between Congress and the FBI have run high at times, Wray focused on the agency’s relationships with U.S. police departments large and small, including some 6,000 task force officers around the country.

“The threats that we face collectively around the country are incredibly daunting,” he said. “By far and away, the most effective means of tackling those threats is teamwork.”

After DeMay’s death in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the FBI joined the investigation by the sheriff’s department in Marquette County and state police. DeMay had thought he was chatting with a girl on Instagram about his own age, and the conversation quickly turned to a request for explicit pictures, authorities said.

But once he shared images of himself, the talk changed to demands for money in exchange for the other side not sending the images to DeMay’s family and friends. When the teenager could not pay, the person on the other end pushed DeMay to kill himself, authorities said.

DeMay had never been talking with a girl, according to the FBI, which said that on the other end were two brothers from Nigeria using a hacked Instagram account. They researched him online, using details about his friends and family to target their threats. They also tried to contact more than 100 people the same way, authorities said.

The pair, Samuel Ogoshi and Samson Ogoshi of Lagos, Nigeria, have pleaded not guilty. Samuel Ogoshi’s lawyer declined to comment. Samson Ogoshi’s lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The FBI has seen a tenfold increase in “sextortion” cases since 2021. A least 3,000 children and teenagers have been targeted, and more than a dozen have killed themselves. Many schemes are believed to be originating with scammers based in African countries such as Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. Most victims are between age 14 and 17, but kids as young as 10 have been targeted.

DeMay’s mother, Jennifer Buta, said he was an easygoing high school athlete with a girlfriend and a big circle of friends. He was preparing to go a trip to Florida with his father the night before his death, she said. HIs family has since spoken out about his death, urging other parents to talk with their kids about “sextortion” schemes.

“It’s important parents know that this can happen. Their child is not an exception. If they are on social media, it can happen so quickly,” she said. “Parents need to let their kids know that they can come to them with anything, and their parents are there to help them and guide them through these situations.”

National News

Michael Boris, with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), shows off thousands of Oyste...

Associated Press

AmeriCorps CEO gets a look at a volunteer-heavy project to rebuild Louisiana’s vulnerable coast.

VIOLET, La. (AP) — A volunteer-heavy effort to restore some of Louisiana’s eroding coast with recycled oyster shells was part of the scenic backdrop Wednesday for a visit from the head of AmeriCorps, the federal agency that deploys volunteers to serve communities around the nation. Michael Smith, the CEO of AmeriCorps, visited a storage area […]

12 minutes ago

Associated Press

FBI searches home of former aide to New York Gov Kathy Hochul

MANHASSET, N.Y. (AP) — The FBI searched the Long Island home of a former aide to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday. The former staffer, Linda Sun, has not been accused of wrongdoing, and an FBI spokesman declined to release details beyond confirming that agents “conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity in Manhasset.” Sun and […]

27 minutes ago

Associated Press

Los Angeles Zoo sets record with 17 California condor chicks hatched in 2024

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A record 17 California condor chicks hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo during this year’s breeding season for the endangered birds, officials announced Wednesday. All the chicks will be candidates for release into the wild as part of the California Condor Recovery Program, the LA Zoo said in a statement. The […]

35 minutes ago

FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, ...

Associated Press

Prosecutors file Boeing’s plea deal to resolve felony fraud charge tied to 737 Max crashes

The Justice Department has filed an agreement in which Boeing will plead guilty to a fraud charge for misleading regulators who approved the 737 Max jetliner before two of the planes crashed, killing 346 people. The detailed plea agreement was filed Wednesday in federal district court in Texas. The American aerospace company and the Justice […]

39 minutes ago

Associated Press

Biotech company’s CEO pleads guilty in Mississippi welfare fraud case

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The chief executive officer of a biotech company with ties to the largest public corruption case in Mississippi history pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of wire fraud for improperly using welfare funds intended to develop a concussion drug. Jacob VanLandingham entered the plea at a hearing in Jackson before U.S. […]

52 minutes ago

President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One as he arrives Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Ju...

Associated Press

Biden to use Oval Office address to explain his decision to quit 2024 race, begin to shape legacy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Insisting that “the defense of democracy is more important than any title,” President Joe Biden on Wednesday will explain in an Oval Office address his decision to drop his bid for reelection and to throw his support behind Vice President Kamala Harris. The address will offer the public their first chance to […]

1 hour ago

A teen’s death in a small Michigan town led the FBI and police to an online sexual extortion scheme