Teen Killed Himself 3 Hours After 'Sextortion' Started

It's a growing problem that can quickly spiral into tragedy
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2022 5:02 PM CDT
Sextortion Is Increasing, and It Can Be Deadly for Teens
   (Getty - Chainarong Prasertthai)

(Newser) – A family in Manitoba, Canada has a message for parents everywhere: "Make sure your kids know they can come to you or another safe adult with any problem, and nothing is too wrong to fix." By itself, the message could apply to any number of troubles teenagers could encounter. In this case, however, the advice applies to sextortion, in which criminals obtain sexually explicit images of a person and then threaten to expose them online or to family members if they don't pay up. Per the Drumheller Mail, it started for Danny Lints at 6:30pm on February 19. Three hours later, he was dead.

According to the CBC, someone on Snapchat posing as a young woman befriended Lints and gained his trust, convincing him to send an explicit picture. Within minutes, the blackmailing began. Lints drained his own bank account and paid what he could, but threats continued. His family says he was an excellent student and avid athlete who had never exhibited suicidal behaviors. His father, Derek Lints, told the CBC, "I feel like my son was murdered." Stephen Sauer at the Canadian Center for Child Protection says, “Young people specifically are pretty vulnerable to this.” He blames it on organized crime rings based overseas who know how to manipulate the developing, impulsive teenage brain.

It’s hard to catch perpetrators because they can mask their IP addresses; even if they are identified, they can’t easily be brought to justice if they are overseas. Canadian authorities received over 52,000 sextortion complaints in 2020, and the problem has only gotten worse. It’s a growing concern around the world, including in the US, where Ryan Last of San Jose, California killed himself in a strikingly similar case last February, per CNN. He said goodnight to his parents at 10pm. In the morning, he was found dead; he too had paid all the money he could scrounge, but the threats didn’t stop. (Read more sextortion stories.)

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