A California man is accused of “sextorting” a teenager who took his own life.
Police say Jonathan Kassi, 25, catfished the 17-year-old boy by pretending to be a teenage girl named “Emily Smith,” according to the NY Post.
Kassi allegedly convinced Ryan Last to text him explicit photos and videos, then threatened to send the photos to his family and friends if Ryan didn’t send him money.
Police say the threats to expose Ryan’s nude photos and videos amounted to a “sextortion” scheme that led to the teen’s suicide.
Kassi, 25, was arrested Thursday in Van Nuys, Ca. and booked into Santa Clara County jail on charges of extortion and attempted disorderly conduct, San Jose police said.
Authorities say Kassi regularly posed as Emily Smith to extort teenage boys for money.
Police said he sexually exploited boys using fake social media accounts with the usernames “emillysmith” and “kassijonathan.”
Kassi then threatened to send their explicit photos to their phone contacts – friends and family – unless they paid him $5,000.
Kassi allegedly sent the blackmail money to a co-conspirator in Ivory Coast in Africa, police said.
Authorities said Ryan (pictured) sent Kassi some money but it wasn’t enough. Kassi demanded more money, which led to Ryan taking his own life just days before his 18th birthday.
At least 3,000 children, mostly teenage boys, have been victims of the extortion schemes that led to more than a dozen suicides in 2022, according to Justice Department officials.
The FBI has warned about a massive increase in teenagers being extorted online for money by scammers pretending to be teenage girls.
Most of the children are between 14 and 17, but some have been as young as 10, police say.
Kassi will make his first court appearance in Santa Clara County courthouse on Monday, Dec. 26.