A sextortionist sent a warped message to a South Carolina lawmaker after allegedly driving his teenage son to suicide by threatening to release a nude photo of him.
‘Did I tell you your son begged for his life,’ was the message, followed by a laughing face emoji, that was sent to South Carolina State Representative Brandon Guffey, CNN reported.
His son Gavin Guffey was the victim of sexual extortion, or ‘sextortion,’ where scammers posed as a girl and tricked the 17-year-old into sending a nude photo. They then demanded cash not to release it.
Gavin had sent them all that was in his account – $25 – and begged them to give him more time. But it wasn’t enough – and on July 27, he shot himself at his family’s home in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
His father, who won his run for State House Representative six months later, briefly considered quitting, but has vowed to use his position to help save others. When Guffey needs a push, he puts on Gavin’s white Vans that are scribbled with a Spider-Man doodle.
‘I feel like he (Gavin) would want me trying to save additional kids from ever having to feel the way that he felt at that time,’ he said, adding the shoes make him feel like he can handle anything.
Lawmakers last month unanimously passed a state bill to criminalize the type of scam that led to his son’s death. And on Thursday, state senators passed the legislation — naming it ‘Gavin’s Law.’
South Carolina State Representative Brandon Guffey (right) introduced a state bill to criminalize the type of scam that led to the death of his son Gavin Guffey, 17, (middle) who was a victim of sexual extortion and took his own life on July 27
Scammers posed as a girl, tricked the 17-year-old into sending a nude photo and then demanded cash not to release it. Gavin had sent them $25 – but it wasn’t enough
Minutes before Gavin shot himself in the bathroom of his home, he had sent a text to his younger brother and to some of his friends.
It was a heart-shaped symbol of love — <3 — on a black background. Gavin then shot himself in the bathroom down the hallway from his room.
His father said it sounded like someone had slammed a bowling ball to the floor. The heartbroken family struggled to find out why their son had taken his own life and searched for any signs they had missed.
That’s when they found out that scammers had posed as a young woman and sent Gavin nude photos.
They had asked Gavin for nude photos and once he sent to them, the scammers threatened to release them publicly unless he gave them money.
In the weeks following Gavin’s death, the scammers then turned their attention to Gavin’s family, sending them a slew of messages on Instagram, threatening to release the nude photos unless they pay.
On August 20, which would’ve been Gavin’s birthday, the scammers messaged the family: ‘Did I tell you your son begged for his life.’
Minutes before Gavin Guffey shot himself in the bathroom of his home, he had sent a text to his younger brother and to some of his friends: <3 — on a black background
On July 27, Gavin shot himself in the bathroom at the family’s Rock Hill, South Carolina home. His father said it sounded like someone had slammed a bowling ball to the floor
Nearly a year later, no arrests have been made, an FBI spokesman in Columbia, South Carolina, told CNN. No further information has been released.
But the memory of the tragedy stays with his family.
‘I was a basket case, I didn’t know what to do,’ Guffey said, recalling the day he found his son in the bathroom, a pistol on the . ‘My initial thought was, this is my fault — I left the gun out.’
He explained that sextortion was a lucrative crime that has attracted both international fraudsters and local scammers.
‘If you can extort 10 teenage boys that aren’t gonna say anything for $100 each, and do all that with one image that you got from a girl, it’s fairly simple,’ he said.
‘And teenage boys, whenever they see they’re getting that attention (from a girl), they’re not necessarily thinking.’
Guffey remembers his son as a typical teenaged boy. He loved skating and art, and had stickers of dinosaurs, Spider-Man and Deadpool on his car’s dashboard.
Nearly a year later, no arrests have been made, an FBI spokesperson in Columbia, South Carolina, told CNN. No further information has been released
Guffey briefly considered quitting his new role as South Carolina State Representative, but has vowed to use it to help save others. When he needs a little push, he puts on Gavin’s white Vans
A flag with a face of rapper Ye — formerly known as Kanye West — with the words ‘Don’t tread on Ye’ on it, was delivered to Gavin on the day he died. It now hangs in Guffey’s office.
‘Gavin would constantly troll me,’ he said with a laugh. ‘I’m a pretty conservative guy, and Gavin was more of a liberal kid. But I always encourage my kids to think on their own, and to be their own person. As long as they’re thinking, that’s what’s most important.’
In the months since Gavin’s death, Guffey’s goal has been to make sextortion scammers ‘think twice before they target children in South Carolina.’
Under the new law proposed by Guffey, scammers who extort a minor will face up to five years in prison for a first offense. The bill will soon be sent to Gov. Henry McMaster to be signed into law.
Federal officials said in a recent alert that sextortion cases have gone up in the past year, and that the cases are contributing to an alarming number of suicides nationwide.
‘This crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship …’ the FBI said in the alert.
‘The shame, fear, and confusion children feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse.’