'Nigerian scammers' may be behind attempted 'sextortion' of 16-year-old suicide victim

A 16-year-old South London boy who killed himself after a blackmailer threatened to leak his nude photos may have been targeted by Nigerian scammers, the boy's father said.

Dinal De Alwas, a shining student at Whitgift School in Croydon, took his own life in October 2022 as a result of sextortion by cyber criminals.

Dinals recorded a video that he had planned to kill himself after he was sent two photos of himself nude and told that he must pay 100 euros or the photos would be leaked online.

Police told the boy's father, Kaushallya De Alwis, that investigators believe his son fell victim to a Nigerian sextortion crime ring and that they may have targeted him by pretending to be a woman, per The Sunday Times.

Dinal, who was described by his family as "gifted" and "caring," may have been duped by fraud artists using the social media messaging app Snapchat to convince him that they were his online girlfriend.

His father told the Sunday Times that police said there is nothing much they can do since the suspects live in Nigeria. He then warned against sending nude photos and explained that a growing number of people have fallen victim to these African sextortion crime rings.

"Police do not have any protocols to go behind these people's [online identities] because it is in Nigeria," he told the paper. "We do not know who took the picture, when it was taken, how it got into the blackmailer's hands. That is a big question mark. I asked police and they do not know."

"There could be a possibility that Dinal had a girlfriend. He had a few girlfriends in the past so if the girlfriend was a fake person and wanted to earn money from taking pictures … It is a possibility that he may have got caught by these predators," the father explained.

Court documents show that Dinal received a message from the scammer that said: 'So you think blocking me can stop me? What do you want me to do – you want me to send to all of your followers? Why can't you just pay me? £100?"

Dinal replied and said that he assumed the pictures had already been leaked. The teen then left his home around 2 am and recorded a video of himself saying that he would take his own life. He was found dead an hour later after jumping to his death, an incident that was captured on surveillance video.

Despite raising what he described as the perfect son, Kaushallya De Alwis asserted that it's impossible to know everything going on in children's lives.

"You cannot keep watch 24/7 on exactly what children are doing and see the threats on their laptop," he told the outlet. "The advice I want to give kids is: do not take or exchange online any pictures. These things can get into the wrong people's hands."

"For instance, if a girlfriend took a picture and that person's phone was stolen and got into the wrong people's hands, that is an easy way to earn some money. There are lots of possibilities," he said.

Sean Sutton from the National Crime Agency told the Daily Mail: "A lot of the victims feel culpable. Our message is, 'You have done nothing wrong'. Even the smartest of people have been tricked by these awful offenders."

"It is a hideous crime. They don't have any concern for their victim," he added. "They are intent on destroying lives, or saying they will."

Sextortion cases are on the rise, according to data obtained by the Sunday Times.

Data compiled from 28 police forces show that 3,382 incidents were reported during the period ending in June 2023, which is a threefold increase from 2020 and 21.

Greater Manchester Police received the most complaints, with the number of reports from those under the age of 18 increasing from 20 to 56.

In contrast, the NSPCC reported that 844 reports were made during youth counseling sessions in the previous year, representing a 61 percent increase compared to 2021 and 2022. According to the Internet Watch Foundation, sextortion crimes have increased by 257 percent since 2022.

Image: Title: sextortion


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