CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Nigerian men were extradited to Gerald R. Ford International Airport Sunday morning to face justice for an alleged sextortion ring targeting more than 100 victims.
The victims were young men and teenage boys in West Michigan and across the United States, investigators said.
In January, Samuel Ogoshi, 22, and Samson Ogoshi, 20, of Lagos, Nigeria and Ezekial Robert were arrested by Nigerian authorities at the request of the United States for the sexual extortion ring. They were later indicted in May. On Aug. 3, a Nigerian judge cleared the way for the Ogoshis to be extradited to West Michigan.
“Make no mistake, charges of this type brought against subjects outside of the United States are rare,” said Devin Kowalski, the acting special agent in charge of the FBI in Michigan. “Securing extradition of these subjects is even more rare.”
The process to bring Robert, the other suspect, to the United States is ongoing.
“We are optimistic he will be extradited as well,” said Mark Totten, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan.
One of their victims was 17-year-old Jordan DeMay, a high school football star and homecoming king at Marquette Senior High School.
Last March, he received an Instagram message from someone who appeared to be a young woman. In reality, investigators say it was Samuel Ogoshi, using a hacked social media account to lure DeMay into sending a nude photo of himself.
“He then turned to extort Jordan DeMay for money, threatening to reveal the image to Jordan’s family and friends if he did not comply,” Totten said.
The teen paid Ogoshi $300, but investigators say Ogoshi continued to demand more money. DeMay eventually told him he was going to take his own life.
“And Samuel Ogoshi, responding through the Instagram persona of Danni Roberts, told him, ‘Do that fast, or I’ll make you do it,’” Totten said. “Jordan DeMay then took his life.”
Investigators say the suspects researched where the victims lived, where they went to school or worked and who they were close with.
“Every child who carries a phone, every adult who carries a phone is carrying something that has the potential to really harm them if they are not careful,” Totten said.
The FBI said the number of sextortion cases involving children and teens has more than doubled since the pandemic.
“We are seeing it all over the district and we’re seeing it increasingly,” Totten said. “We’re seeing it all over Michigan.”
Kowalski said it’s “imperative” for parents and young people to understand how sextortion happens.
“Begin discussing online safety in order to reduce stigma and save our children’s lives before it is too late,” he said.
It can start on any website, app or game where people meet and communicate.
“A criminal may claim to already have a revealing picture or video of a child that will be shared if the victim does not send more pictures,” Kowalski said. “The offender often releases the victims sexually explicit material regardless whether or not payment is made or received.”
Many victims don’t come forward.
“The shame, fear, and confusion our young people feel when they are targeted often prevents them for asking for help and prevents them from reporting the abuse,” Kowalski explained.
“The predator is to blame,” he continued. “Not your child or you.”
If you or someone you know is targeted, report the predator’s account on the app. Share it with local law enforcement or the FBI at 1.800.CALL.FBI or tips.fbi.gov.
Block the profile but don’t delete the messages, Kowalski said.
“That information can be helpful to us as we put together a case and identify subject,” Kowalski said.
No matter how trapped victims may feel, investigators say there are people who want and can help them.
“For those who are listening and may have been targeted, I want you to know you are not alone,” Kowalski said.
“Whether you can believe it now or not, there is life after sending pictures,” Kowalski said.
Totten also warned predators that investigators will find them wherever they are.
“To those engaging in this crime, understand we will travel the world to find you and hold you accountable,” he said. “No one is immune to justice.”
Samuel Ogoshi and Samson Ogoshi are expected to make their initial appearance in the Grand Rapids federal courthouse on Monday afternoon. They have been charged with several felony counts which could result in decades in prison.
Three additional Nigerian residents allegedly involved in sextortion have been charged in Nigeria. Their legal cases are moving through the Nigerian criminal justice system. Totten did not rule out that more charges could be filed.
“It may be there are more to come,” Totten said. “We’ll just have to wait and see where the investigation goes.”