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Cleveland officials warn teens after victim of unthinkable con took his own life

Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 4:41 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An unthinkable con ultimately lead to the death of a midwestern teen, according to law enforcement.

Now, officials here in Ohio and partners of the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad are warning about what they call a “sextortion” scam.

Sextortion is not necessarily a new concept, according to Sue McConnell at the Cleveland area Better Business Bureau.

“It’s trying to extort money from someone with a threat of exposing nude pictures of them, videos of them,” McConnell said.

We used to see it happen to people of all ages over email.

Now however, McConnell says kids on social media are at a greater risk.

“A young person that this happens to is going to be scared. They probably don’t want to tell their parents. They don’t want to tell anybody. They want to do whatever they can to make it go away,” McConnell said.

This spring the unthinkable happened, after police say a teen was targeted in a neighboring state.

Sheriff’s deputies in Michigan say they got permission to share 17-year-old Jordan DeMay’s story.

Police say the popular high school senior thought he was talking online with a girl.

Investigators believe he sent nude pictures of himself over Instagram in return for pictures back but instead...he quickly found himself trapped.

The person on the other end demanded $1000 or else the pictures would go to family and friends.

Demay sent all he could come up with - $300.

Hours later, a friend received one of the photos and told Jordan’s parents, who told investigators.

But -- it was too late. Jordan was already gone. He took his own life.

Because of Jordan’s death, the BBB in eastern Michigan put out a warning this week.

It’s a message McConnell is trying to spread before any local teens fall victim.

“It can go down this very horrible path pretty quickly,” she said.

So how do you help your child now?

  • Make sure your teen knows never to accept friend requests from someone they don’t know -- even if they claim to be friends of your friends.
  • Since the scammers goal is to get to know your child before they reach out, make sure their privacy settings have information locked down where only friends can see.
  • Lastly, make your kids use two-factor authentication and have them change their passwords regularly to avoid being hacked.

To speak with an investigator or receive written materials to help you protect yourself from scams, you can call the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs at 216-443-SCAM (7226).

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