A 17-year-old boy from San Jose was one of the multiple teenage boys who fell victim to Jonathan Kassi’s sextortion.
According to San Jose Police Department, Kassi, 25, will make his first court appearance in a Santa Clara County courtroom on Monday to enter a plea.
Sgt. Christian Camarillo said, “Kassi sexually exploited children online.”
According to police, a sextortionist posed as a teen girl named “Emily Smith” and tricked boys into recording and sending sexually explicit videos.
Kassi was in charge of collecting blackmail money from the teen boys and sending it to a co-conspirator on the Ivory Coast of Africa.
“San Jose Police ICAC identified Jonathan Kassi as a person involved in the sextortion of a 17-year-old resident of San Jose which resulted in his suicide,” Camarillo wrote.
The 17-year-old boy was identified as Ryan Last.
Court documents reveal that Last left a note for his family, saying that someone was blackmailing him and that he could “live with myself anymore.”
On February 25, Last was assumed to be in a Google Hangout video with “Emily.” Investigators said that “Emily” is a sextortionist on the Ivory Coast using an email account email@example.com.
During the video chat, “The direct perpetrator … told the victim to expose his face and his penis. (The perpetrator) took screenshots of the victim’s penis and face during the video chat (and) informed the victim,” police wrote.
“(The perpetrator) told the victim that if he did not pay him $5,000, he would post the victim’s photos … on YouTube. The victim stated he did not have money and begged (the perpetrator) not to post his intimate photos. (The perpetrator) then told the victim if he provided the victim’s Instagram name and password, he would not post the intimate photos. The victim provided the requested name and password,” police Det. Jose Montoya wrote in a criminal complaint.
Once the perpetrator had access to the victim’s Instagram account, he threatened to send sexually explicit images to the victim’s friends, family, and contacts.
Last sent $150 through Zelle on February 26, but Kassi demanded more money.
At 1:45 a.m. on February 26, the victim sent his last message to Kassi pleading to not “ruin his life,” Montoya wrote. Just fifteen minutes later, the boy killed himself, according to police.
The boy’s last note for his parents helped detectives decipher what led to his death.
Detectives reviewed Varo bank transactions, found deposits via Zelle, and identified withdrawals of thousands of dollars from Varo to a Western Union bank on the Ivory Coast.
Montoya wrote, “I identified Jonathan Kassi via the California DMV. He was born 02/21/1997, driver’s license Y8376339, residing in Reseda, CA. Sergeant Pierce informed me that Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Xiomara Flores had told him that Jonathan Kassi was from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Africa.”
Kassi was arrested in Van Nuys last week by Los Angeles Police Department officers, transported to San Jose, and booked into a Santa Clara County jail on December 16. He is being held behind bars with no bail.
“Based on the totality of the investigation, I believe that Jonathan Kassi poses an extreme threat to public safety, specifically children. The financial stress, the threat of intimate video/photographs published on the Internet, and the impact the exposure would have on the Victim’s reputation, family/friend dynamics, and professional life poses real threat to the victims. I believe these extortion schemes cause severe mental and emotional trauma on these Victims resulting in self-harm or suicide,” Montoya wrote.
SJPD detectives believe there could be additional victims due to Kassi’s criminal pattern and use of social media to target minors. Anyone with information about this case, or other cases involving Kassi, is asked to contact Sergeant Pierce of the San Jose Police Department’s ICAC Unit at 408-537-1397 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.