A recent study conducted by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) has uncovered a concerning trend of financial sextortion attacks targeting teenagers in Nigeria. These attacks have resulted in a significant number of American deaths [2], as victims often resort to suicide after being targeted [2]. This form of cybercrime [3], known as “financial sextortion,” involves adults coercing kids and teens into sending explicit images online [3], threatening to distribute these images if they do not pay [3]. The study reveals that this type of cybercrime is on the rise in North America and Australia, with the Yahoo Boys [1] [3], a non-organized cybercriminal group based in West Africa [3], being the primary perpetrators. They utilize platforms like TikTok, YouTube [1] [2], and Scribd to target English-speaking teenagers and young adults on social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat [1] [2] [3] [4], and Wizz [1] [2] [3] [4]. These criminals employ social engineering techniques and generative artificial intelligence to manipulate their victims [1], often creating fake nude photos to coerce them into paying.


The study conducted by the NCRI highlights the alarming increase in financial sextortion incidents. The FBI has reported a staggering 1,000% rise in such cases, while the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) has observed an alarming 7,200% increase in cases involving children [1]. Despite the evidence of reported sextortion online [3], platforms like Instagram [2] [3], Snapchat [1] [2] [3] [4], and Wizz have been slow to implement preventive measures. In response to this growing threat, the NCRI advises victims to block the criminals [1], report their accounts [1], refrain from making any payments, gather evidence for law enforcement [1], and deactivate any accounts where the criminals have made contact. It is also recommended that young people seek support from trusted adults and that parents engage in open discussions about online activity and the potential risks associated with certain platforms [1]. Additionally, the NCRI suggests deleting accounts on Wizz and raising awareness within the community to help prevent instances of sextortion [1].

A specific case highlighted in the study involves two Nigerian men who were brought to the US on charges of a sextortion scheme that led to the suicide of a 17-year-old Michigan high school student. The accused and their co-conspirators used fake accounts on Facebook and Snapchat to pose as attractive young women [3], gain access to young male users’ friends and follower lists [3], and convince victims to send explicit photos [3]. The victims were promised that the photos would be deleted or not distributed if they sent money [3], but they faced new threats and pressure to continue making payments after paying [3].

The study also reveals that the Yahoo Boys, who are online fraudsters from Nigeria [3], engage in sextortion activities on platforms like TikTok and YouTube [2]. These self-described Yahoo Boys share videos and scripts teaching others how to extort their victims [2], with these materials having been viewed over half a million times [2].


The impact of financial sextortion attacks on teenagers in Nigeria is devastating, with a significant number of American deaths resulting from victims resorting to suicide. The rise in such cybercrimes, particularly in North America and Australia [3], is alarming. It is crucial for platforms like Instagram, Snapchat [1] [2] [3] [4], and Wizz to take immediate action to prevent the spread of sextortion. Victims should follow the NCRI’s advice to protect themselves and gather evidence for law enforcement. Additionally, it is essential for young people to seek support from trusted adults and for parents to engage in open discussions about online activity and the potential risks associated with certain platforms. Deleting accounts on Wizz and raising awareness within the community can also help prevent instances of sextortion. The study’s findings highlight the urgent need for increased awareness, prevention [1] [3], and intervention to combat this growing threat.


[1] https://digitaltimesng.com/yahoo-boys-responsible-for-cyber-sextortion-ncri-study/
[2] https://redstate.com/jeffc/2024/01/27/how-a-shadowy-west-african-organization-is-targeting-children-for-sextortion-n2169299
[3] https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1152184-sextortion-fastest-growing-crime-targeting-young-people-in-us
[4] https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/nigerian-yahoo-boys-social-media/