GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – An Upstate family is fighting for change after their son tragically died from a “sextortion blackmail scheme”.
There isn’t a day that goes by when Kathy & Kevin don’t think about their son, Jared Johns.
“It’s a devastation that you can’t put into words,” said Kathy Bowling, Jared Johns’ Mother.
Johns was a veteran and loving father, but his life was cut short by what investigators have called, a sextortion blackmail scheme.
“Lord knows if I would have heard of it, I would have warned him but the first time I had heard of it was when it happened to Jared,” Jared Johns’ Father, Kevin Johns told us.
Investigators said it started in 2018 with two prisoners in the Lee Correctional Institution who got access to contraband phones.
Officers said the phones were used to text Johns pretending to be parents of a soon-to-be 18-year-old girl, asking for over a thousand dollars or else, threatening to go to the police and making Johns believe he committed a crime when he didn’t.
Johns’ parents told 7NEWS, that he suffered from PTSD and these threats were the tragic tipping point. He died by suicide on September 11, 2018.
The FBI has been tracking this kind of sextortion case for years. They’re essentially digital blackmail. However, they’re starting to see a major uptick in reports.
That’s why Johns’ parents are talking about what happened. They can’t bring their son back but they said they can keep his memory alive.
“When this all came out, I began to get so many calls and messages saying if we hadn’t have seen your son’s story, my nephew wouldn’t be here. We had helped him and a girl, also a guy from Florida who already bought the gun,” said Bowling.