Sextortion Scam Claims Another Teen Boy’s Life Within Hours. When Will It End?

Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of suicide and self-harm.

Another young man with a bright future has lost his life to sextortion scammers.

Earlier this month, we brought you the sad tale of a young Australian teen who took his own life after becoming a victim of sextortion online. He wasn’t the first, and tragically, not the last, as another Australian teenager has fallen victim to this insidious sextortion scam.

This latest scam was quick and horrific. Within hours of being blackmailed by a scammer, the 17-year-old boy took his own life. 

Aussie 17-year-old boy dies due to a sextortion scam

Rohan Cosgriff was a 17-year-old, year 11 student at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat. He was admired by his peers, a great friend, and an active member of the college.

Rohan shared his father’s passion for horse racing and was often spotted leading horses around the track. The Monday before his body was discovered, he’d snuck down to the toilets while at school to watch Helen’s Boy race, sending his father, Anthony, a positive text after the horse won.

It seemed Rohan was on a high. He loved playing football and had won best player on the ground the Saturday before. He was in good spirits from his dad’s racing win and started talking to a girl online.

A boy lost, a family shattered

On the evening of July 26, 2022, Anthony was on the computer filling out paperwork, paying bills, etc, his wife, Beck, went in to say goodnight to their son. Moments later, she returned and asked if Anthony knew where Rohan was.

After realising he wasn’t in his room, the family searched for Rohan, eventually calling his phone to find him.

Anthony felt dread as he searched. He decided to don a head torch to see in the dark winter night and search the oval next to the house, where the family would play ball games.

That is where Anthony found his son. He proceeded to perform CPR on him until paramedics arrived, but devastatingly, Rohan was gone.

In shock, Anthony grabbed Rohan’s doona and pillow, put the pillow under his head, and covered him with the doona to keep him warm in the rain. His parents lay next to him in the grass and stroked his hair, telling him they loved him, all while wondering what had happened.

It wasn’t until the next day that police found his note, which read, “I’m sorry. I’ve made a huge mistake. I love you all so much.”

How did this happen again?

Two months after Rohan’s death, investigators finally gained access to his phone and discovered the girl he thought he was talking to was not a girl. He was sending messages to part of a sextortion ring operating out of Nigeria.

The conversation started friendly, as it always does: flirty banter to get just enough information out of you to find your family, friends, and work colleagues on social media.

Then he was sent an intimate photo of the ‘girl’ who started asking him for one back using the ‘I-showed-you-mine-you-show-me-yours’ style of pressure. From the content, it was clear he hadn’t wanted to send them, but, in the end, he did.

The extortionist immediately threatened to expose Rohan’s picture if he didn’t pay them $1000.

He told them he was a kid, only seventeen, what they were doing was illegal, and that he didn’t have that kind of money. But they were relentless. Police say the pressure they placed on him was immense and happened within the first half an hour.

Their last message to him said, “Right, you’ve got half an hour until we ruin your life.”

After that, Rowan wrote a note to his family, went outside to the grass he’d made so many happy family memories, and took his own life.

It can happen within hours of initial contact

An investigative report by 7NEWS Spotlight reveals scammers in Lagos, Nigeria message teens daily trying to get money from them for intimate photos sent.

In the shocking report, the program spoke with a 21-year-old university student who purchases hacked, female Instagram accounts and use these photos to lure young teens.

They choose victims, mainly teenage boys between 13-17 years of age from developed countries such as Australia and the US. They use a Fake Name Generator to find random names to target.

sextortion scam another teenage boy within hours
Sextortion scams can happen within hours. Source: Bigstock

Within hours of building rapport with these unsuspecting teens, the young Nigerian man sends explicit, female photos, encouraging the boys to do the same back. Once received, they immediately start blackmailing the victim.

The scammer says they know the young boys who fall victim to his scams are terrified. And although they say they don’t realise the consequences of their scam, it doesn’t stop them from doing it again.

Over 100 teenagers fall victim to these scams every day.

The tech giants aren’t doing enough to stop sextortion scams

The investigative report by 7NEWS Spotlight revealed that major tech companies aren’t doing enough to stop sextortion on their platforms, according to all interviewed participants.

Brandon Guffey, a South Carolina state legislator, is suing Meta, the parent company of Instagram, for wrongful death and gross negligence. He believes the company isn’t taking sufficient action to protect children from online predators.

Guffey’s 17-year-old son, Gavin, committed suicide on July 27, 2022, after becoming a victim of sextortion. Tragically, his death coincided with that of Rohan Cosgriff, who died the day before on the other side of the globe.

Guffey holds Meta entirely responsible for his son’s death. He argues that Meta fails to take strict measures against child pornography, allowing it to be stored on their servers.

“If I’m holding cocaine, I can’t say it’s not mine because it’s on my property. Yet, that’s what Meta does with child pornography,” he asserts.

When 7NEWS Spotlight requested an interview with Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri, Meta declined, citing Mosseri’s travel schedule without offering anyone else for an interview.

This month, Meta announced new measures to protect young users from sextortion and intimate image abuse. The company said it would soon begin testing a new feature on Instagram that blurs potentially explicit images in direct messages and encourages users to think twice before sending them. The feature will be enabled by default for users under 18, but they can turn it off.

But is it enough to protect our kids?

We must talk to our kids and let them know it’s OK if they make a mistake.

The Cosgriffs say it’s time we change the conversation about sending intimate images.

Of course, we should encourage our teens not to send these pictures. However, Beck and Anthony think a caveat should be added to that message.

“If you do, it’s not the end of the world. We can fix it.”

Two years on, the family says they miss the way Rohan bounced through a door, the sound of his voice on the other end of the phone, and most of all, his smile.

Sadly, teens are going to send nudes. The more we tell them not to, the more likely it is that they will. But if they’re being pressured into sending them, we won’t know if they don’t feel like they can tell us.

When they feel pressured to send nudes or send money to prevent them from being exposed, they get scared. We must be vigilant with our kids and reassure them we are their safe space. They can come to us if they are pressured, send something they wish they could take back, or are being threatened.

We need to change the conversation around this topic and hold the right people accountable before losing more young people because the next victim of a sextortion ring could be your teenager.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact:
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander crisis support line 13YARN on 13 92 76
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Headspace on 1800 650 890
ReachOut at
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978

What to read next 

Avatar of Tina Evans

Tina Evans is a complete introvert, an avid reader of romance novels, horror novels and psychological thrillers. She’s a writer, movie viewer, and manager of the house menagerie: three kelpies, one cat, a fish, and a snake. She loves baking and cooking and using her kids as guinea pigs. She was a teenage parent and has learned a lot in twenty-three years of parenting. Tina loves Christmas and would love to experience a white Christmas once in her life. Aside from writing romance novels, she is passionate about feminism, equality, sci-fi, action movies and doing her part to help the planet.

Comments are closed.