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Alleged members of a global sextortion operation that targeted more than 100 victims and led to the death of a 17-year-old boy were extradited to the United States on Sunday to face federal criminal charges, authorities said.
Samuel Ogoshi, 22, and Samson Ogoshi, 20, both of Lagos, Nigeria, were arrested following a joint investigation by the FBI and Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and are now in federal custody in Michigan, US Attorney Mark Totten said in a news release.
Both men were indicted in May by a federal grand jury on charges including conspiracy to sexually exploit minors and conspiracy to distribute child pornography, according to court records.
Samuel Ogoshi also faces a more serious charge of sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor resulting in death, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. That charge stems from an alleged online encounter that investigators say resulted in the death of 17-year-old Jordan DeMay, who died by suicide after falling victim to a sextortion scam.
Authorities say the extradition of a third man, Ezekiel Ejehem Robert, is pending.
CNN is attempting to locate attorney information for the defendants.
The FBI defines sextortion as an online scheme in which a perpetrator using a false identity solicits an explicit photo from an unsuspecting individual and then threatens to publicly release the image unless the victim provides payment.
It commonly “starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is offering something of value,” the FBI said.
The bureau has received thousands of sextortion reports of minors last year, representing an “exponential increase,” and was aware of more than a dozen suicides associated with these scams, it said.
Many of the sextortion scams reported to federal agents are determined to be from suspects on the African continent and in Southeast Asia, the FBI told CNN.
According to prosecutors, Samuel Ogoshi used a hacked social media account to make contact with DeMay while pretending to be a young woman. After persuading DeMay to provide a sexually explicit photo of himself, Ogoshi allegedly threatened to publicly release the image unless DeMay paid the scammers.
DeMay paid Ogoshi $300, but Ogoshi demanded more, authorities said.
After DeMay wrote that he was going to kill himself, Ogoshi allegedly responded, “Do that fast, or I’ll make you do it,” Totten said.
DeMay died by suicide on March 25, 2022, prosecutors said.
“Our family has forever been changed by this heinous crime and our objective is to prevent another individual from being victimized,” the DeMay family said in a statement after federal charges were unsealed earlier this year. “Kids, teenagers, young adults, and even adults can be a target of sextortion. We urge you to have discussions about this and have a plan for your children to reach out if it does happen to them.”
“This was a multifaceted investigation that involved identifying hundreds of victims, following the digital footprints left behind by these sextortionists on the Internet,” said Devin Kowalski, acting FBI special agent in charge. The alleged sextortion ring was disrupted by tracking victim payments through financial entities, Kowalski said.
Federal investigators will continue their global disruption efforts, Totten said Sunday following the extradition: “To those engaging in this crime, understand that we will travel the world to find you and hold you accountable.”