Suspect Arrested in Alleged Extortion Scam that Resulted in Teen’s Suicide
Above: Jonathan Kassi booking photo | San Jose PD
A Los Angeles man has been arrested in connection to an alleged extortion scam that resulted in a San Jose teenager taking his own life.
In a press release published via Contra Costa News, San Jose police identified 25-year-old Jonathan Kassi of Reseda as the primary suspect in an alleged extortion scheme that resulted in the death of 17-year-old Ryan Last in February of this year.
The initial investigation came as a result of a tip from the Internet Crimes Against Children task force.
Police allege in court documents, obtained by KRON4 and cited by KTLA, that Kassi had catfished Last by posing as another teenager named “Emily” and convincing him to send nude photos of himself. Kassi then allegedly threatened to publish the images unless paid $5,000.
Kassi allegedly then told Last that, if provided with the teen’s Instagram handle and password, that he would not share the images.
After gaining access to Last’s account, Kassi allegedly once again threatened to share the images unless he was paid. Last eventually agreed to pay $150 and did so, but Kassi allegedly demanded more and continued to threaten to publish the images.
According to KTLA, at around 1:45 AM on February 26, Last sent a message to Kassi begging him not to “ruin his life.” Fifteen minutes later, Last committed suicide. He reportedly also left a note for his family saying he had been blackmailed and could not “live with myself anymore.”
All of this was over the course of just two calendar days; Last’s initial contact with “Emily” was on February 25.
Kassi was ultimately identified as the suspect earlier this month, and arrested in Van Nuys on December 15. He has since been transported back to Santa Clara County and remains in custody on charges of extortion and attempted disorderly conduct.
In the press release, police say that Kassi has a pattern of using social media to target minors, and that there may be more victims. He has reportedly operated under the handles “emillysmith” and “kassijonathan.”
Anyone with additional information about Kassi, regarding this case or any others, is highly encouraged to contact Sergeant Pierce (#3415) of the San Jose PD ICAC Unit at (408) 537-1397, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.