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A 17 year-old boy killed himself hours after an online ‘sextortionist’ tricked him into sending a nude photo, then blackmailed him for $5,000.
Ryan Last, a straight-A student from San Jose, died by suicide in February just hours after being approached by a creep posing as a girl on a social media app.
The sicko sent Ryan, who attended Sobrato High School, a naked photo they claimed was of themselves, then asked him to send one back in return.
He was immediately hit with the demand for cash on doing so, which was later revised down to $150 after Ryan pleaded that he didn’t have the cash.
The youngster paid out from his college savings, but the warped internet user continued to pester him for more cash, and drove Ryan to end his own life.
His stricken mother Pauline Stuart found a suicide note explaining what happened and, has now bravely shared her ordeal with CNN in a bid to try and spare other families the same grief.
Ryan Last, 17, of San Jose, California, took his own life after a cybercriminal told him he would send naked pictures of the teen to his family and friends if he failed to pay $5,000
She said: ‘Somebody reached out to him pretending to be a girl, and they started a conversation,’
‘He really, truly thought in that time that there wasn’t a way to get by if those pictures were actually posted online,’ Stuart told CNN. ‘His note showed he was absolutely terrified. No child should have to be that scared.’
‘They kept demanding more and more and putting lots of continued pressure on him,’ Stuard told CNN, adding that the family only learned about what happened following Last’s suicide and a police investigation.
‘How could these people look at themselves in the mirror knowing that $150 is more important than a child’s life?
‘There’s no other word but ‘evil’ for me that they care much more about money than a child’s life,’ she added. ‘I don’t want anybody else to go through what we did.’
Last’s death is part of a growing ‘sextortion’ trend where scammers target young boys as the FBI reported more than 18,000 cases last year, with families losing more than $13 million.
Pauline Stuart, Last’s mother, her son died afraid and embarassed by what he was going through after reading the suicide note he left behind
Last’s parents, Pauline and Hagen, have become advocates speaking out against ‘sextortion’ scams targeting teen boys. Last (second from the right) is pictured with his parents and brother in an undated photo
WHAT IS SEXTORITION?
According to the FBI, sextortion is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.
The perpetrator may also threaten to harm your friends or relatives by using information they have obtained from your electronic devices unless you comply with their demands.
The FBI has recorded more than 18,000 complaints about sextorition in the U.S. in 2021, with losses totaling more than $13 million.
Last, a Boy Scout, had finished visiting the colleges he was considering attending when he first came in contact with the scammer, his mother said.
Immediately after the scammer tricked Last into sending an intimate photo of himself, the criminal demanded $5,000 from the teen or else they would share the photo of him online.
When the 17-year-old told the criminal he could not pay the full amount, the scammer asked for $150, which Last had to take out of his college savings, but it didn’t end there.
Last’s father, Hagen Last, and Stuart have since become advocates to raise awaraness about ‘sextorition’ scams.
On Facebook, after sharing details about their son’s death with local media outlets, Hagen wrote: ‘We thought we did everything correctly protecting our boys from any online threats. But Ryan still became the victim of an online scam that ended with blackmail. In the end he got so embarrassed and scared that he only saw one way out.’
‘We want to help to make sure that this will not happen to any other family. And the best way to do that is to help educate parents and children about what dangers exist on the internet.’
The high school senior and Boy Scout had finished visiting colleges when he was contacted by a scammer pretending to be a girl. After paying the ‘sextortionist’ $150 to not share explicit photos of the teen online, the criminal demanded more and more
Stuart, pictured with last, said her family is heartbroken and she is working with law enforcement so no family goes through the same pain they did
FBI officials said the case is still under investigation and part of a worrying trend of ‘sextorition’ crimes targeting teenage boys across the country.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Dan Costin, who leads a team to counter crimes against children, told CNN that US boys are being targeted by scammers from Africa and Southeast Asia in these extortion scams.
While the FBI is working with law enforcement officials around the world to track down these ‘sextoritionist,’ Costin said there could be many more cases the agencies don’t know about given that victims may not always report the crime.
‘The embarrassment piece of this is probably one of the bigger hurdles that the victims have to overcome,’ Costin told CNN. ‘It can be a lot, especially in that moment.’
Dr. Scott Hadland, chief of adolescent medicine at Mass General in Boston, echoed the concerns and said teens are ‘still developing.’
‘So when something catastrophic happens, like a personal picture is released to people online, it’s hard for them to look past that moment and understand that in the big scheme of things they’ll be able to get through this,’ Hadland told CNN.
He also said that parents should take an active role in monitoring what their children are doing online and speaking to them about the dangers of sharing explicit photos online.
‘You want to make it clear that they can talk to you if they have done something, or they feel like they’ve made a mistake,’ Hadland added.