Parents reveal teen sons committed suicide after being ‘sextorted’: ‘This is terrorism’

At midnight on December 1, 2022, Walker Montgomery received a direct message from a pretty girl on Instagram. 

The 16-year-old didn’t know her, but they seemed to have mutual friends, and he was flattered as she asked him about school and football.

Soon enough, things turned from flirtatious to sexual. The girl video-chatted Walker on Instagram and soon exposed herself.

He did the same — and stepped right into a trap.

There was no girl at all. The video had been lifted from a porn site. 

The person on the other side of the chat was a Nigerian scam artist who recorded the entire encounter. 

As soon as Walker’s image was captured, the scammer threatened to send the video to all of the boy’s Instagram’s contacts unless he forked over $1,000.

Walker Montgomery, 16, took own life after being targeted by sexortionists — a growing problem with teen boys.Courtesy of Brian Montgomery

For two hours the Starksville, Mississippi, teen, who did not have access to a bank account, pleaded for mercy as the extortionist claimed to send the photos to his list of followers one by one.

“We’re gonna destroy your life if you don’t give us the money,” the scammer told him. “Everybody’s gonna disown you. Your life is over.”

Walker MontgomeryWalker committed suicide hours after sextortionists first contacted him.Courtesy of Brian Montgomery

When the list got to his mother’s username, it was too much for the teen to stand. He said he was going to kill himself.

“Go ahead, because your life is already over,” the scammer responded.

Walker retrieved a handgun from his father’s safe, and, at just 16, he took his own life.

His harassers never sent out the video, even though they claimed they had.

The teen had fallen prey to sextortion — a scheme in which scammers lure victims into sharing explicit photos, then threaten to send the pictures to everyone they know unless they pay up.

Walker Montgomery playing footballWalker’s sextortionist lured him in by talking about football.Courtesy of Brian Montgomery

Perpetrators — many of whom are from Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, according to the Department of Justice — often contact targets through direct messages on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp. The FBI says that 13- to 17-year-old boys are the most common targets.

For six weeks, Walker’s parents, Brian and Courtney Montgomery, were at a complete loss as to why their child took his own life.

Walker had a large group of friends, a close-knit family and attended church regularly. He loved hunting, fishing and football.

“When this happened, none of it made sense,” Brian, a crop insurance agent, told The Post. “There were no signs of depression. No mental illness. No red flags.”

Brian and Walker MontgomeryBrian Montgomery, seen here with son Walker, says there’s an all-out war being waged against young boys by scammers offering online sex and romance.Courtesy of Brian Montgomery

But an FBI forensics analysis of Walker’s phone uncovered the scam. The whole ordeal — from the first message to Walker’s death — lasted only four hours.

“We never got to see him. We never got to help him,” said the heartbroken father, 47. “We never got to even observe him under the stress to be able to try to help him. There was no opportunity.”

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Now, Brian just wishes he had known this threat even existed — so he’s telling Walker’s story to make sure other parents know.

In fact, the night before the Montgomerys spoke to The Post, Brian was contacted by a parent whose child had been targeted and he was able to help talk down the hysterical 15-year-old.

It’s a vital job, as sextortion is becoming more and more common, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which operates a Cyber Tip Line where victims can report sextortionists.

Ryan Last in a graduation gownRyan Last was days away from turning 18 when he took his own life after sextortionists targeted him.San Jose Police Department

The organization says the number of reported sextortion scams doubled between 2019 and 2021, and that more than a quarter of a million cases of online enticement have been flagged since 2016.

“Criminal enterprises are starting to turn their sights onto young kids,” Cal Walsh, a child advocate at the center, told The Post. “They realized that many children in the United States have access to their parents’ finances and credit card information.”

He cited a major “knowledge gap” when it comes to these often hyper-organized scams: “Parents need to be talking to their children about making safe and smart decisions, but also letting them know that they can come to them and that it’s not their fault when someone solicits them online.”

Walsh said he’s aware of more than a dozen boys who took their own lives as a result of these shakedowns last year. 

Ryan’s mother, Pauline, says her son’s death destroyed her family.Courtesy of Pauline Stuart

Pauline Stuart is the mother of one of them.

“I never even knew sextortion existed until it happened to us,” she told The Post.

Stuart, a San Jose educator who teaches autistic grade schoolers, said it’s important that parents realize that kids with no prior mental health concerns can take their own lives as a result of sextortion.

Her 17-year-old son, Ryan Last, was mere days away from turning 18 and a senior in high school when he was contacted by Ivory Coast scammers who talked him into sending a compromising photo over Google Chat last March.

He desperately wired them $150 of the $5,000 they demanded. It was all the cash the teen could muster up to stop the photo from being sent to his entire Instagram friend list. 

Jonathan KassiJonathan Kassi of California was arrested in connection with Last’s death, and authorities say he was working as a money mule for Ivory Coast scammers.San Jose Police Department

Within eight hours of the first fateful message, he took his own life.

“Ryan was so afraid that we would be disappointed that he couldn’t think past what he did,” said Stuart, 54. “This destroyed our family, and I can’t stand by while it happens to other kids.”

She said there were no warning signs. Not only was her son an “all around well-behaved kid” — a straight-A student and an Eagle Scout — but they also had a very close relationship. Just the day before he took his own life, Ryan had asked his mother for advice about a girl he liked.

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“He didn’t have mental health problems. He didn’t have issues,” she said. “I mean, we even had parental controls on his devices.”

Since losing her son, Stuart has seen some justice. Late last year, authorities arrested Jonathan Kassi, a 25-year-old living in Los Angeles, for serving as a money mule for the Ivory Coast scammers.

Samson Ogoshi is one of two Nigerian brothers extradited to the United States in connection with sextortion scams.

Kassi’s co-conspirators have yet to be charged, but there is hope.

Earlier this month, two prolific Nigerian sextortionists — brothers Samuel and Samson Ogoshi, 22 and 20 — were extradited to the United States on federal charges of sexual exploitation, conspiracy to exploit minors, child pornography distribution and internet stalking.

One of their victims, 17-year-old Jordan DeMay of Michigan, took his own life after the siblings extorted him last March. The Department of Justice has shared the chilling messages the brothers sent DeMay.

Samuel OgoshiSamuel Ogoshi faces a minimum of 30 years in prison if found guilty of the charges against him.

“I have screenshot all ur followers and tags can send this nudes to everyone and also send your nudes to your Family and friends Until it goes viral,” they wrote under the screen name dani.robertts. “All you’ve to do is to cooperate with me and I won’t expose you.”

After the teen told them he was going to kill himself, they responded, “Good. Do that fast. Or I’ll make you do it. I swear to God.” Jordan followed through.

Samuel faces a minimum sentence of 30 years and Samson five years if convicted.

Messages between the Ogoshi brothers and Jordan DeMayThe FBI released a transcript of messages allegedly exchanged between the Ogoshi brothers and 17-year-old Jordan

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children advises that anyone approached by a sextortionist should block the individual, save the messages and immediately report the incident to the authorities.

Many victims fail to block their sextortionists out of fear that will cause the photos to be released. But privacy expert and blackmail consultant Frank Ahearn said that fear is often unfounded.

“Blackmail is a transactional thing about money. It’s not a thing about destroying a life,” Ahearn, who has made a career out of helping sextortion victims get out unscathed, told The Post.

“It’s about getting paid: threaten, threaten, get paid, threaten, threaten, get paid. There’s no money in threaten, threaten, expose. So in most cases they don’t.”

Frank M. Ahearn Privacy expert Frank Ahearn says he sees cases of sextortion every day.Benoit RUff

Such was the case with 16-year-old Waylon Scheffer. He took his own life in December out of fear that his explicit photos had gotten out into the world. 

They hadn’t. In fact, his family didn’t even know the teen was a victim of sextortion until investigators uncovered messages in Waylon’s phone weeks after his untimely death.

Jason Scheffer thought he had taught his son about the dangers of the internet. But one warning he passed on would prove to be hauntingly prophetic.

Waylon SchefferWaylon Scheffer took his own life in December out of fear that his explicit photos had gotten out into the world. Courtesy of Jason Scheffer

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“If it’s some hot chick sitting on a beach somewhere, it’s not some hot chick sitting on a beach somewhere,” Scheffer warned his teen on multiple occasions. “It’s a dude from Africa.”

Waylon, from Huson, Montana, loved baseball, fishing, and farming — as his father, Jason, described him, “as country as they come.”

But his father, who is a diesel parts salesman, says Waylon’s small-town upbringing made him prey for sextortionists: “He was naive, but that’s why I spoke to him. He’s a little country kid.”

Waylon Scheffer with his brother and motherWaylon, seen here with his brother and mom, Christina, was 16 when he died last December.Courtesy of Jason Scheffer

At 10 p.m. December 14, Waylon hugged his father and said good night. Unbeknownst to Jason and his wife, Christina, their son wouldn’t get a wink of sleep. That evening, he downloaded WhatsApp to talk to a girl online.

As soon as they traded explicit photos, the situation went south as sextortionists, who investigators say were from Africa, demanded money. Waylon desperately tried to call a friend, but he couldn’t muster up the funds.

“They kept him up, beating on him all night,” his father said.

The next morning, Waylon came downstairs, poured a glass of milk and headed out to school — acting like a normal groggy teen and keeping to himself.

Everything seemed fine until Jason received a call from Waylon’s school saying he never showed up.

Jason and Christina SchefferJason and Christina Scheffer say they had no idea their son was speaking to strangers online and would have done anything to protect him against sextortion.Courtesy of Jason Scheffer

He drove home from work to look for his son. Instead he found the teen’s car missing — and a note in the foyer saying Waylon had headed up Nine Mile, a remote road that leads into the woods.

Waylon took his own life by firearm under a tree. He had just turned 16.

There is still $24 — desperately cobbled together for the sextortionists — lying on his bedroom floor where he left it. And the scammers continued to message Waylon’s phone for months after his death.

A federal investigation is pending, and Jason still has countless unanswered questions, like how long the sextortionists spoke to his child, and how much money they asked for, but he’s hoping for justice.

Waylon Scheffer's cowboy boots and cowboy hat surrounded by memorial flowersWaylon took his own life after alleged Nigerian scammers threatened to send explicit photos of him to his entire contact list.Courtesy of Jason Scheffer

“It’s a huge ring of people. It’s like the cartel,” Jason said. “This is terrorism.”

Jason has found solace in a network of parents from across the country whose children fell victim to the same scam. Among his newfound confidants is Brian Montgomery. 

Waylon and Walker took their own lives just 13 days apart — and now their fathers have united in a mission to stop other kids from succumbing to the same fate.

“I see this as a fight,” Montgomery said. “I see it as a war. There’s a war on our kids. We have no other defense other than awareness right now.”

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