The elaborate sexual extortion plot that led to 17-year-old Jordan DeMay’s death unravelled in less than six hours.
In the early morning of 25 March 2022, the teenager died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after being gripped by fear that his nude photos would be shared with the world.
The exchange that led to the tragedy was initiated by three men far across the Atlantic posing as a woman on Instagram. The trio, who American prosecutors have since identified as Nigerian brothers Samuel and Samson Ogoshi, and Ezekiel Ejehem Robert, allegedly convinced the minor to send the explicit photos and then blackmailed him for $1,000.
Jordan, known by loved ones for his passion for sports and kind-hearted nature, only managed to send $300.
Despite telling the Instagram profile carrying out the extortion that he was seriously considering suicide as a result of the extreme duress he was being subjected to, the revolting threats continued to come.
“There wasn’t really a chance for him to reach out or for us to stop anything because it happened in the middle of the night,” Jordan’s mother Jennifer Buta tells The Independent.
“Losing a child is the worst thing that I could have ever imagined. For the first day, I was just banging my head asking, ‘What happened to my son?’ Because I saw him the night before. I talked to him the night before and when I started my day, he was gone.”
The suspects were indicted earlier this year in Michigan, marking a rare instance in which federal authorities have successfully managed to prosecute one of the alarming growing number of sextortion schemes targeting young men in the US.
The Ogoshi brothers were extradited to the US on Monday and are expected to appear in court in Grand Rapids for a bond hearing on Thursday.
‘I can’t imagine what Jordan went through’
Jordan was a senior student nearing graduation at Marquette Senior High School when he died. He played basketball and football and had worked hard to physically recover after suffering an injury during his freshman year.
“He loved music ... We travelled a lot with basketball so some of my memories, my favourite memories with him are being in the car and listening to the music. Both of us singing, dancing around,” Ms Buta said.
“He had a lot of friends and was really good at connecting with people. He wanted to be everybody’s friend.”
His suicide came as a shock to his parents, who scrambled to process the sudden loss and work out what could have possibly driven their lighthearted, always-in-good-spirits son to kill himself.
Jordan had deleted any messages on his phone that might have alerted his parents or authorities to the extortion scam before he died – but, a day after his death, one of his friends told his mother that they had received his nudes.
“Once [law enforcement] got a hold of it, they were able to start digging and get some records from Instagram,” Ms Buta said.
“It gave us like answers as to what did happen. What Jordan went through that evening ... as a mom, I can’t imagine how scared he was ... the torture. It makes me feel sick to think about it.”
According to prosecutors, Samuel Ogoshi, 22, Samson Ogoshi, 20, and Mr Robert, 19, gained access to an Instagram account by the name of “dani.robertts”.
While impersonating the user, they allegedly encouraged Jordan and more than 100 other victims to send them nude photographs.
“I have screenshot all ur followers and tags can send this nudes to everyone and also send your nudes to your Family and friends Until it goes viral… All you’ve to do is to cooperate with me and I won’t expose you,” Samuel Ogoshi allegedly wrote.
In a series of texts encouraging Jordan to kill himself after Jordan only paid $300, the social media account responded: “Good/Do that fast/Or I’ll make you do it.”
Cyber ‘sextortions’ lead to dozens of suicides
The number of reported sextortion cases carried out overseas and targeting Americans have increased in alarming numbers in recent years.
In May, the FBI issued a national public safety alert to warn parents after seeing a tenfold increase in online sexual blackmail cases. According to the bureau, 3,000 children were victims of sextortion plots that were connected to more than a dozen suicides in 2022.
“We need to disrupt these criminals by making potential victims and their parents aware of the sextortion threat. Parents and guardians should talk to their children about the dangers of online communication, and the importance of speaking up if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.”
The Justice Department announced earlier this year that agents from the bureau had travelled to Nigeria to conduct a cooperative investigation with the African country’s law enforcement officials regarding Jordan’s case. Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) then arrested Samuel and Samson Ogoshi and Mr Robert.
The indictment against the three men was announced in May and, late last month, a Nigerian judge ordered the Ogoshi brothers to be extradited to the US. The process was finalised earlier this month after the Nigerian solicitor-general signed the final surrender order.
Both Ogohsi brothers face charges of conspiracy to sexually exploit minors, distribution of child pornography and stalking. Samuel Ogoshi is also charged with sexual exploitation of a minor resulting in death and faces a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted.
Mr Robert is currently awaiting extradition to the US.
Ms Buta said she plans to attend the Ogoshis’ hearing on Thursday as she spoke of her gratitude to US authorities.
“This is a huge undertaking and accomplishment for our justice system and the FBI. I am so grateful for it and so grateful for the cooperation that they had from their counterparts in Nigeria and the Nigerian Government,” she said.
Since her son’s death, Ms Buta has been in touch with other families who have lost their children under similar circumstances.
“His dad and I agreed that we needed to let everybody know about this. To let our community know because everyone was affected by this and everybody’s thinking, ‘What did we miss? Here we have this homecoming king who is happy and took his own life ... If we didn’t know about this and we were talking about it with our son, we were certain that other parents weren’t having this conversation and they needed to sit down and have that conversation immediately,” she said.
She says she now hopes that by sharing Jordan’s story, other teens going through similar experiences will realise that help is there.
“I get messages weekly from parents that this happened to their child and that their child came to them and spoke to them and they were able to stop what was going on,” Ms Buta told The Independent.
“Because it’s happening so frequently and because of the sensitivity and the embarrassment factor ... we need to talk about it from all ends of the country. [It happens] in the middle of the night to these young kids. They just aren’t ready to handle a situation.”
Jordan was larger than life and always cared for others, his mother said. He was an older brother to four sisters whom he enjoyed sharing his time with and planned to attend Michigan University to study athletic training.
“I want my son to be remembered as that smiling kid, there’s one picture out. One of the things that Jordan would say to people was ‘I got you.’ Meaning, ‘I have your back.’ And this is something that friends and family in our community, we’ve really latched on to,” Ms Buta said.
“It’s something that we say to each other to provide support. And in a way, Jordan is saying, ‘I got you,’ by us sharing his story and being able to change how these cases are handled.”
She added: “And sending a message to the people that are engaging in this that if you are doing it, you can be caught. You’re not just a face on the other side of the computer.”
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.