Two Nigerian men at the center of an alleged international "sextortion" scam appeared in federal court in Michigan on Monday.
A grand jury indictment alleges Samuel Ogashi and Samson Ogashi hacked into social media accounts and posed as young women.
They allegedly convinced over 100 teens and young men to send them sexually explicit photos and threatened to expose their victims unless they paid up.
Jennifer Buta says her 17-year-old son, Jordan de May, took his own life after the suspects blackmailed him. She says the suspects demanded $1,000 from him. Jordan only paid $300.
Now, one of the men is charged with sexual exploitation and attempted exploitation of a minor resulting in death, which could carry a life sentence if convicted.
Both men are also charged with conspiracy to sexually exploit minors, conspiracy to distribute child pornography and conspiracy to commit stalking.
The extradition of a third defendant is pending.
Senior counsel Gerard Filitti with the Lawfare Project — an international non-profit defending civil and human rights — says the extradition and prosecution for sextortion is uncommon.
"It hasn't happened that much in recent times. We had a case in Canada after seven years of trying, we finally managed to extradite him," Filitti said.
He says this case is moving swiftly.
Sextortion is the act of threatening to share explicit or nude images. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, over the last two years these cases spiked.
In 2022, Homeland Security investigators received more than 3,000 sextortion tips.
"It sends the message that the DOJ will get you no matter where you are in the world. You're not safe hiding behind a keyboard in Africa, Asia, Russia or anywhere else," Filitti said.
Nigerian officials also charged three other men they say were involved in the same sextortion ring.
As for Jordan's mother, she's pleading with parents to talk with their children about the reality of sextortion and to put a plan in place.
"Just keep those lines of communication open to let them know that no matter what they do, they can come to you or another trusted adult for help if they get themselves into a situation like this," Buta said.
It's unclear how soon, or if, that third defendant will be extradited.
In the meantime — if you or someone you know is a victim of sextortion, please send your tips to 1-800-CALL-FBI.
There's also an emergency number to call if you're struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health issues. Just call or text 988 to speak with a trained counselor.
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