MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KRON) — A troubling trend the FBI calls “sextortion” is on the rise. One South Bay teen committed suicide in late February after interacting with a cyber scammer.
“They probably spent four or five hours getting to know him and then a couple hours of pressure, he couldn’t handle the pressure and took his life rather than see his pictures posted on the internet,” Pauline Stuart, the mother of the late teen said.
Stuart says her 17-year-old son Ryan Last had a good head on his shoulders. He was a member of the Future Farmers of America, and ready to attend Washington State University, until late February – when a cyber scammer reached out to him.
Stuart says the scammer posed as a woman, sent Last a picture and Last sent one back. Then, the scammer demanded $5,000. Last sent a fraction but it wasn’t enough.
The FBI says it’s called “sextortion “ and they are targeting young men through social media.
“Social media means everything to them and that was there way to reach kids,” Stuart said.
Stuart says she had parental controls on her son’s electronics, but parents must sit down with their kids.
“The message is talk to your kids about what apps they are on and make them understand that not everybody that reaches out to them is who they say they are,” she said.
The FBI says the scammers have been traced back to Africa, but for a mother in mourning, her new mission is educating other parents on sextortion.
“We need to educate and do all that for other people so they can’t do it to anyone else,” Stuart said.
Anyone in need of help can call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.