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Two Nigerian men accused of running an international sextortion ring that led to the suicide of a Michigan teenager were extradited to the U.S., and a third suspect is expected to follow.
Samuel Ogoshi, 22, and Samson Ogoshi, 20, of Lagos, Nigeria, as well as Ezekial Ejehem Robert, 19, allegedly bought hacked social media accounts, posed as young women to lure teenagers and young adult men into sexual chats that included explicit images and videos, and threatened to release them unless they paid a ransom.
Jordan DeMay, 17, was one of at least 100 American victims. He received a message from a username “dani.robertts” that said, “All you’ve to do is cooperate with me and I won’t expose you,” according to prosecutors.
The next day DeMay shot himself.
Samuel Ogoshi allegedly sent the messages to DeMay and was charged with his death, which carries a mandatory 30 years to life in federal prison if he is convicted.
“Sextortion is a horrible crime,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten said in a statement. “To those who commit these crimes: we will pursue you around the world. And to those who are victims: please know we stand ready to help you.”
The May 2023 indictment against Samuel Ogoshi, Samson Ogoshi and Robert detailed their alleged scheme, which is an example of a rapidly advancing crime trend that’s been fueled by artificial intelligence.
Sextortion cases increased 322% between February 2022 and February 2023, according to the FBI, which recently said there’s been an additional significant uptick since April.
Sextortion isn’t new, but the number of cases has boomed since the pandemic. From 2021 to 2022, the FBI recorded a 463% increase in reported sextortion cases, and now open-source artificial technology tools have simplified the process for predators, the FBI said.
DEMAY’S DAD TALKS ABOUT LOSING HIS SON AFTER A SEXTORTION SCAM
Samuel and Samson Ogoshi are expected to appear in federal court Monday afternoon in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the federal indictment was filed.
Both were charged with conspiracy to sexually exploit minors and conspiracy to distribute child pornography. Samuel faces two additional charges of sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor resulting in death.
The extradition of the third defendant, Robert, is still pending, prosecutors said.
“My son was smart. He was a good student. He was a great athlete,” John DeMay, Jordan’s father, told Fox News Digital in a previous interview. “Someone came to his bedroom at 3 in the morning and murdered him through Instagram when we were all sleeping at night, and we had zero chance to stop it.”
The FBI describes sextortion as a crime that “involves coercing victims into providing sexually explicit photos or videos of themselves, then threatening to share them publicly or with the victim’s family and friends.”
In most cases, these crimes are financially motivated rather than sexually motivated, the FBI said in a June PSA.
Predators, who are typically in another country, weaponize sexually explicit photos that they’ve either tricked the victims into sending or used artificial intelligence to doctor innocent images of juveniles to coerce money out of them or their families, according to the FBI.
Many victims are males between the ages of 10 and 17, although there have been victims as young as 7, the FBI said. Girls have also been targeted, but the statistics show a higher number of boys have been victimized.
“Financial sextortion is a global crisis that impacts teens in our country and around the world,” Devin J. Kowalski, acting special agent in charge of the FBI in Michigan, said in a statement.
“As this case demonstrates, the FBI is committed to working closely with our domestic and international law enforcement partners to prevent young men and women from becoming victims of this tragic crime.”
Alicia Kozak, who escaped a sexual predator’s dungeon where she was kept in chains, is now an internet safety expert who regularly speaks in schools to educate students about the dangers of online predators.
She told Fox News Digital in a previous interview that sextortion is one of the biggest and most devastating threats to today’s teens.
In a world where kids chase social media influencer status and fame, they blindly accept followers without vetting them, she said.
“I speak in schools, and every single school I’ve spoken in has had several sextortion victims and nearly all of the communities have had a child die by suicide as a result of sextortion and the threats, shame and fear that go along with it,” Kozak said.
The FBI issued a PSA on June 5 about sextortion because of the boom in cases, which law enforcement said is largely fueled by AI-generated “deepfakes.”
“Malicious actors use content manipulation technologies and services to exploit photos and videos – typically captured from an individual’s social media account, open internet or requested from the victim – into sexually-themed images that appear true-to-life in likeness to a victim, then circulate them on social media, public forums or pornographic websites,” the FBI said in a June 5 PSA.
“Many victims, which have included minors, are unaware their images were copied, manipulated and circulated until it was brought to their attention by someone else.”
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW WITH ALICIA KOZAK
Sextortion is a crime that predators have carried out in the shadows for years. In what authorities called one of the largest sextortion cases ever prosecuted in the U.S., 31-year-old Lucas Michael Chansler was sentenced in 2014 to 105 years in prison.
The Florida man had targeted more than 350 victims from 26 states, three Canadian provinces and the U.K. between 2007 and 2010.
VIDEO: WATCH SCARY EXAMPLE HOW AI USED IN SEXTORTION SCAMS
He posed as a 15-year-old boy on MySpace, AIM and Stickam to befriend girls between 13 and 18, and used 135 different online IDs to conceal his identity and locations, the FBI said.
He pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to prison, but there are still more than 200 child victims who have not been identified in his case.
Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said in a previous statement that young victims of this crime “feel like there’s no way out.”
“But we want them to know that they’re not alone. In the past year, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has received more than 10,000 sextortion-related reports,” DeLaune said earlier this year. “Please talk to your children about what to do if they (or their friends) are targeted online. NCMEC has free resources to help them navigate an overwhelming and scary situation.”
NCMEC also provides a free service called “Take It Down,” which works to help victims remove or stop the online sharing of sexually explicit images or videos.
The website is: https://takeitdown.ncmec.org.
The FBI provides recommendations for sharing content online, as well as resources for extortion victims, at https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2023/PSA230605.
The FBI also urges victims to report exploitation by calling the local FBI field office, 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report it online at tips.fbi.gov.