Nigerian Sextortion Scammers Target Teens: A Mother's Tragic Story

In the shadow of Nigeria’s growing cybercrime issue, sextortion has emerged as the fastest-growing scam affecting teenagers globally, with a devastating toll. The scam has been linked to over 27 suicides in the United States alone, and Nigerian authorities are facing pressure to address the crisis effectively.

Jun 9, 2024 - 13:46
Nigerian Sextortion Scammers Target Teens: A Mother's Tragic Story

Two years ago, Jenn Buta’s son, Jordan, took his own life after falling victim to sextortion scammers who tricked him into sending explicit images and then blackmailed him. Jordan's room remains untouched since his death, filled with his basketball jerseys, clothes, and personal items, a silent testament to his memory.

Jordan was targeted on Instagram by scammers posing as a girl his age. They flirted with him, exchanged sexual pictures, and coerced him into sharing explicit photos of himself. The scammers then demanded money to prevent the photos from being shared with his friends. Despite Jordan sending as much money as he could, the threats continued, leading him to take his life within six hours of first contact with the scammers.

The perpetrators, Samuel Ogoshi, 22, and Samson Ogoshi, 20, were tracked down in Nigeria, arrested, and extradited to the United States. They are now awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to child exploitation charges. Another Nigerian individual linked to Jordan’s case is fighting extradition.

Jordan’s story has become a pivotal case in the battle against sextortion. His mother, Jenn, now campaigns on TikTok using the account Jordan set up for her, raising awareness about the dangers of sextortion. Her efforts have garnered over a million likes.

Sextortion is believed to be significantly under-reported due to its sensitive nature. In the US, reported cases more than doubled last year to 26,700, with at least 27 boys taking their own lives in the past two years. Research indicates that many sextortion scammers operate from West Africa, particularly Nigeria. Recent arrests in Nigeria are linked to suicides in Australia, the US, and Canada, highlighting the global reach of this crime.

The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) in the US has identified numerous Nigerian social media accounts sharing tips and scripts for sextortion, often in Nigerian Pidgin dialect. This issue echoes earlier waves of cybercrime from Nigeria, such as the infamous "Yahoo Boys" involved in email scams.

Dr. Tombari Sibe from Digital Footprints Nigeria notes that cyber-fraud has become normalized among Nigerian youth, driven by high unemployment and poverty. The ease with which money can be made through these scams overshadows concerns about their severe consequences.

Despite international criticism, Nigerian authorities assert they are taking the issue seriously. Uche Ifeanyi Henry, Director of Nigeria’s National Cyber Crime Centre (NCCC), insists that his team is actively combating cybercrime. He acknowledges that while Nigerian teens are also targeted, the problem is global, with perpetrators in other regions such as Southeast Asia.

To enhance their efforts, Nigerian cybercrime officials are visiting the UK’s National Crime Agency to collaborate on tackling sextortion and other cybercrimes. This follows recent meetings with Japanese law enforcement.

Jenn Buta continues to advocate alongside Jordan’s father, John DeMay, offering advice to potential victims. Key tips include:

  • Remembering that victims are not alone and it’s not their fault.
  • Reporting the predator's account via platform safety features.
  • Blocking the predator from further contact.
  • Saving profiles and messages for law enforcement.
  • Seeking help from trusted adults or law enforcement before sending money or more images.
  • Understanding that cooperating with the predator rarely stops the blackmail, but law enforcement can intervene.

Jenn’s ongoing campaign and the international cooperation against sextortion aim to prevent further tragedies and bring justice to those responsible.