‘Our hearts will forever be broken’: Family, officials talk dangers of sextortion following teen death
MARQUETTE, Mich. (WNEM) - Three Nigerian men are being charged with sexually extorting more than 100 minors and adults in the Western District of Michigan, and across the United States.
One of the men has also been charged with causing the death of Jordan DeMay, of Marquette. The charges were announced on Wednesday by U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten, after the federal indictment was unsealed.
On March 25, 2022, 17-year-old DeMay was found dead 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 indictment unsealed on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
“Our hearts will forever be broken with a huge part of our lives missing,” said Jennifer Buta, the teen’s mother.
Related: Investigators: MSHS student was victim of sextortion hours before suicide
“Sextortion is a horrible crime that can leave especially younger victims feeling ashamed with nowhere to turn,” Totten said. “My heart goes out to the family of Jordan DeMay. Nothing can bring Jordan back, but my office is committed to securing justice and, alongside Jordan’s family, sending an urgent warning so others can protect themselves and their families. We will travel the world to hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable.”
Sexual extortion or “sextortion” can take many forms. Through various ruses and exploits, victims are lured to share compromising images or engage in compromising conversations. Girls and women are often extorted to produce more sexually explicit pictures, while boys and men are commonly extorted for money. In all cases, the perpetrators use embarrassment and shame with the threat of disclosure to leverage what they want. The sextortion can cause enormous stress and crisis for victims.
Related: Sheriff: Social media sugar daddies targeting local teens
Totten shared a series of text messages DeMay exchanged with one of the suspects the night he died.
“‘I’m kms rn,’ which means I’m killing myself right now, ‘because of you.’ And Ogoshi, as Dani Robertts, responds, ‘Good, do that fast, or I’ll make you do it, I swear to God.’ And Jordan DeMay then used a firearm to take his life,” Totten said.
Totten said that while attorneys don’t normally name victims in these cases, DeMay’s parents asked them to share his name in an effort of providing a cautionary tale to others.
“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,” the DeMay family said. “Kids, teenagers, 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. Jordan will never be forgotten. He will forever be in our hearts and will drive us forward to share his story and help others.”
Related: Family of Jordan DeMay releases statement following indictment
The defendants, Samuel Ogoshi, 22, Samson Ogoshi, 20, and Ezekiel Ejehem Robert, 19, all of Lagos, Nigeria, have been charged with conspiracy to sexually exploit minors, a maximum of 30 years in prison, conspiracy to distribute child pornography, a maximum of 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit stalking through the internet, a maximum of five years in prison.
Additionally, Samuel has been charged with sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor resulting in death, which is associated with DeMay’s suicide. This charge has a maximum of life in prison.
If a teen, or the parent of a teen, finds themself in this situation, Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, offers the following safety tips:
- Stop engaging with the person harassing you
- Block their account to limit further interactions
- Report them within the app immediately
- Tell a trusted friend or parent what’s happening
- Go to TakeItDown.NCMEC.org to prevent your intimate images from being spread online
- Talk to law enforcement if you feel you’ve been taken advantage of.
The FBI provides the following tips on how people can protect themselves from sextortion schemes:
- Be selective about what you share online. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you.
- Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
- Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that people are who they claim to be. Images can be altered or stolen. In some cases, predators have even taken over the social media accounts of their victims.
- Be suspicious if you meet someone on one game or app and that person asks you to start talking on a different platform.
- Be in the know. Any content you create online—whether it is a text message, photo, or video—can be made public. And nothing actually “disappears” online. Once you send something, you don’t have any control over where it goes next.
- Be willing to ask for help. If you are getting messages or requests online that don’t seem right, block the sender, report the behavior to the site administrator, or go to an adult. If you have been victimized online, tell someone. Being a victim of sextortion is not your fault. You can get through this challenge, even if it seems scary and overwhelming. There are people who want to help.
If you have information about or believe you are a victim of sextortion, contact your local FBI field office, call 1-800-225-5324, or report it online.
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