REPORT: Suspects Openly Sell ‘Sextortion’ Guides On Social Media As Number Of Child Victims Spikes

(AI Photo by Mariana Pedroza/Lummi)

John Oyewale Contributor
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Suspected criminals are selling “sextortion” guides on social media as children and teenagers increasingly fall prey to sexual blackmail schemes, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported Tuesday.

The guides teach would-be scammers how to masquerade online as young women and hoodwink a victim into sending sexually explicit content, which the suspects would then use to blackmail the victim, the report revealed. The guides also show how to set up untraceable phone numbers, create fake social media accounts and use secure payment platforms.

One of the alleged contributors to the guide boasted his victim paid him “every Friday,” the report showed.

There has been a spike in child and teenage victims of sextortion — a “massive threat” to children, as the intelligence professional and sextortion expert Paul Raffile put it — according to the report. It marked a shift from adult victims to much younger, mostly male victims in particular, Raffile reportedly added.

One such young male victim reportedly parted with £100 (about $127) to alleged sextortion suspects who blackmailed him with a fake picture. He opened up to his parents, with whose help he then shut down his social media account, escaping further harm, according to the report.

“Internet scammers over these past two years have found out that they can get very rich very quickly by scamming an untapped market. And that’s teenagers,” Raffile told the BBC. “They are finding their victims by going on social media platforms and searching for high schools and youth sports teams, and then ‘following’ or ‘friending’.”

Sextortion gangs increasingly targeting young people across social media appear to be based in West Africa, particularly Nigeria, the BBC reported. (RELATED: FBI Alerts Public To Surge In ‘Sextortion’ Schemes Targeting Minors)

“This crime has really exploded on Instagram and Snapchat over these past two years … these platforms need to aggressively go after these criminals,” Raffile told the BBC.

Meta rescinded a job offer it gave to Raffile as a human sextortion and trafficking investigator after the latter accused Instagram of allowing child sextortion during an Apr. 24 webinar, The Guardian reported May 16.

Michigander Jordan DeMay, 17, committed suicide March 25, 2022, after three Nigerian men blackmailed him with his nude photo and goaded him to kill himself when he complained about their actions, ABC News reported. Two of the suspects—brothers Samuel Ogoshi, 23 and Samson Ogoshi, 21—were extradited to the U.S. Aug. 2023 and faced relevant charges, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Initially pleading not guilty, they pleaded guilty in April and await sentencing. The third suspect—Ezekiel Ejehem Robert, 19—remains in Nigeria, appealing against his finalized extradition, according to Upper Michigan’s Source.

South Carolinian Timothy Barnet, 13, committed suicide Apr. 6, 2023, having fallen prey to a sextortion scam, FOX News reported Sunday. Barnet’s family sued Snapchat, the report revealed. South Carolina State Rep. Brandon Guffey’s 17-year-old son also killed himself in July 2022, according to the report. Guffey then sued Meta over Instagram’s alleged role in the fatal scam.

Nigerian Olamide Shanu appeared in a London, U.K. court Tuesday, accused of being part of a gang that made £2 million (over $2.5 million) from sextortion, the BBC reported. Shanu faces potential extradition to the U.S. state of Idaho.

At least 12,600 victims—primarily boys—fell prey to over 13,000 alleged sextortion schemes from Oct. 2021 to Mar. 2023, with 20 victims killing themselves, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).