Suspect charged in Nigeria over sextortion of B.C. boy who died: RCMP

A man has been charged with several offences in Nigeria following a 2023 financial sextortion investigation in Surrey. Monika Gul has more on the investigation.

Content warning: This article deals with the subject of suicide. If you or a loved one is at risk of self-harm, the BC Crisis Centre can be reached at 1-800-784-2433. Translation services are available.

Mounties in B.C. say charges have been laid in Nigeria in connection with a 2023 financial sextortion investigation in Surrey.

In February of last year, the Surrey RCMP was called to a home for reports of a “sudden death of a male youth.” Initial investigations determined the 14-year-old was a victim of financial sextortion.

Throughout the subsequent probe, the RCMP says evidence was collected that showed “the youth had been tricked into sending explicit photos to a suspect online who posed as a teenage girl.”

The teen, who communicated with the suspects over social media, including Snapchat and Instagram, was then blackmailed, with the offenders threatening to share the photos with the boy’s family and friends unless he bought gift cards and sent them to the suspect.

Investigators say the interactions were brief and within a day.

“Every case is different. In this case, it was only minutes … Sometimes, these offenders may groom their victims for a longer period of time. But I think this is a prime example of how it doesn’t need to be long and ongoing,” Sgt. Tammy Lobb with the Surrey RCMP said Tuesday.

Sgt. Tammy Lobb
Sgt. Tammy Lobb. (CityNews Image)

The RCMP says it identified two suspects in May 2023, adding investigators determined they were “operating in Nigeria.”

Investigators with the Surrey RCMP travelled to Lagos, Nigeria, in July. While there, Mounties say they worked with the FBI, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), the third of which launched what the RCMP describes as “a parallel investigation” into the suspects a month later.

Two suspects were arrested as a result, with one of the men being released without charges.

The second man, 26-year-old Adedayo Olukeye, was charged with multiple offences under the Nigerian Criminal Code, including possession and distribution of child pornography, attempts at extortion by threats, money laundering, and retention of proceeds of an unlawful act.

The Surrey RCMP says Olukeye remains in custody in Nigeria pending a court date. Investigators note there is no extradition treaty between Canada and Nigeria, though they add there was “great cooperation throughout” between all international partners.

Awareness around sextortion

In a statement, the victim’s family says the boy was “an innocent child who was taken advantage of due to his innocence.”

“It has been almost one year since we lost our son. He loved hockey and he loved life. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss him,” the family said.

“As we grieve the loss of our son, we want other parents to know this could happen to anyone. Talk to your kids about Internet Safety and keep the door to communication open so they can come to you for help.

“It brings us some comfort to know the person responsible is being held accountable. We hope this does not happen to another child. We want to thank the Surrey RCMP who has provided us with support and kept us apprised of what was going on throughout the investigation,” the family continued.

The Surrey RCMP says it has not publicly released the name of the victim due to the Privacy Act and per a request from the family.

Meanwhile, Lobb notes the impacts of sextortion can be devastating.

“We as police cannot fight this battle alone. We need everyone who works with young people or who is a parent to have these conversations, and make sure youth are aware of how they can be extorted online and what to do if they have shared images. That is the important piece,” she said. “If they have sent images, there is still life after that. There are resources available, there are police officers waiting to help you, and that is our message today.”

The RCMP describes financial sextortion as “a global crisis” which “heavily” affects youth here and around the world.

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