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FBI director urges Nigeria to do more to combat the rise of sextortion

Seventeen-year-old Jordan DeMay was a beloved high school student from Michigan, who took his own life in 2022 — just hours after he was the target of a crime known as "sextortion."

Cybercriminals posed as an attractive girl in the United States who was interested in him. Then they threatened to release explicit photographs of him, unless he paid them. He sent $300, but they demanded more.

DeMay is one of a growing number of young people who’ve been the target of what authorities call "sextortion," where cybercriminals threaten to release nude or sexually explicit images to blackmail a target for ransom. Criminals also use fake photos, leveraging artificial intelligence to create images to use in the scam.

While the perpetrators are all over the world, many are based in Nigeria, according to U.S. law enforcement agencies.

The sharp rise of sextortion attacks from the West African country is a growing concern. Last week, the FBI Director Chris Wray visited Nigeria, in part to urge Nigerian authorities to do more.

Cybercrime is a prominent but complicated issue in Africa’s most populous country, with Nigerians suffering from online scams and from the response of Nigerian police agencies, often accused of rights abuses.

The perpetrators in the DeMay case were two brothers based in Lagos: Samuel and Samson Ogoshi, 22 and 20-years-old. They were arrested on sexploitation charges and extradited from Nigeria to the U.S. last year. This past April, they pleaded guilty to conspiring to sexually exploit teenage boys in Michigan and across the U.S. They’re now awaiting sentencing.

For more on this story, hit the play button to listen to the report by NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, in the United States: Contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 9-8-8, or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Internationally: Visit this website to find a hotline near you.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Emmanuel Akinwotu
Emmanuel Akinwotu is an international correspondent for NPR. He joined NPR in 2022 from The Guardian, where he was West Africa correspondent.
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