They demanded five thousand dollars, which later rose to 150, but it remained constant.
Ryan last received a message on a school night in February from someone he thought was a girl. Within hours, a 17-year-old straight-A student and boy scout committed suicide.
“Someone pretended to be a woman and walked up to him and they started a conversation,” his mother Pauline Stuart told CNN, who struggled with tears, describing what happened to her son a few days after he and Ryan split up. Colleges he wanted to join after graduating from high school.
Online conversation quickly became intimate, and then became criminal.
The swindler, posing as a woman, sent Ryan a nude photo and then asked Ryan to share a revealing picture of himself in return.
As soon as Ryan shared a private photo of himself, the cyber criminal demanded $ 5,000 and threatened to make the photo public and send it to Ryan’s family and friends.
The San Jose, California dean said he could not pay the full amount to the cybercriminal, and the claim was eventually reduced to a fraction of the original number: $ 150.
But after paying fraudsters out of his college savings, Stuart said, “they demanded more and more and put more pressure on him.”
At the time, Stuart knew nothing about what was happening to his son. He learned the details after police investigators put together the events that led to his death.
After saying good night to Ryan at 10:00 pm, she described her son as generally happy. At 2:00 p.m., he was deceived and committed suicide. Ryan has left a suicide note describing how much he was ashamed of himself and his family.
“He thought at the time that if those photos were published online, he could not go any further,” Pauline said.
“His note showed that he was completely scared. No boy should be so scared.”
Increase in “sector” cases
Police call the type of fraud “sexstortion” and investigators found an explosion in complaints from victims, prompting the FBI to launch a campaign to warn parents from beach to beach.
The company says it received more than 18,000 complaints about “sexstortion” in 2021, with losses of more than US $ 13 million. The FBI says it is a serious crime for criminals to use child pornography to attract suspects.
The young Lost case is under investigation, Stuart and the FBI told CNN.
“Being a criminal, especially targeting children, is one of the deepest breaches of trust in the community,” said FBI Special Agent Dan Costin, who leads a team of investigators who deal with crimes against children.
According to Castin, many of the “sexstortion” scams reported to the FBI were determined to have originated from criminals in Africa and the Southeast Asian continent.
Federal investigators work with law enforcement agencies around the world to help identify and arrest juvenile delinquents online, Costin said.
A challenge to the FBI
Many victims of rape do not report incidents to law enforcement.
“The embarrassing part of this is one of the biggest hurdles that victims have to overcome,” Gostin said. “It may be a lot, especially at that time.”
But investigators are urging victims to contact law enforcement online or at their local FBI office as soon as possible.
Medical experts say there is a major reason why young people in particular are prone to “sexstortion” scams.
Dr. Scott Hotland, Head of Adolescent Medicine at Mass General in Boston, said, “The adolescent brain is still developing.
“So, when something catastrophic happens like a personal picture being posted online, it can be hard for them to see past that moment, and in bigger things, they can get it,” he explained.
Hotland said there are steps parents can take to protect their children from harm online.
“The most important thing a parent can do with their teens is try to understand what they are doing online,” he said.
“You need to know when they go online, with whom they interact, and what sites they use. Are they being approached by people they do not know, and are they under pressure to share information or photos?”
Hotland said it is especially important for parents to warn teens not to be ashamed of scams like “sexstation”.
“You want to make it clear that they can talk to you if they did something or if they feel they did something wrong,” he said.
Ryan’s mother agrees.
“You have to talk to your kids because we need to let them know about it,” Stuart said.
Still grieving the loss of her son, she honors him by actively expressing his family’s grief and by talking to Ryan and telling his story. She believes she can save lives by doing so.
“How can they see in the mirror that $ 150 is more important than a child’s life?” He said.
“There is no word other than ‘evil’ for those who care more about money than the life of a child. I do not want anyone else to pass what we have passed.”
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