The parents of a US Army veteran says he was the target of a “sextortion” scam carried out by prisoners in a South Carolina prison that ultimately led to him taking his own life.
According to his parents, Jared Johns, 24, killed himself on September 11, 2018 hours after prisoners allegedly set him up in a “sextortion” scam.
Kathy Bowling and Kevin Johns say that prisoners at Lee Correctional Institution attempted to scam their son out of $1,189 by posing as a 17-year-old girl who had sent him illicit images.
They believe their son would still be alive if the inmates had not attempted to scam their son.
“My son should still be alive,” Bowling said, according to Greenville News.
The scam was purportedly conducted through the dating service Plentyoffish.com.
Police offered few details about Johns parent’s clams but confirmed there is an investigation to determine whether inmates at a South Carolina prison were communicating with Jared Johns.
According to Greenville News, the scam appears to be similar to one used by five South Carolina inmates who took advantage of 442 military servicemen from around the nation and netted more than $500,000 between 2015 and early 2018.
The inmates used contraband cellphones to visit online dating sites posing as women to lure servicemen. They sent naked photos and then ask for photos of the men in return. Then they pretended to be the women’s fathers, who would claim the women were underage and eventually demand money in return for not notifying authorities.
On September 11, 2018, John’s body was found by his twin brother, Jacob, after he had recorded a two-minute video.
“I messed up, and I’m so sorry,” Jared Johns says in the video. “I made some stupid mistakes.”
“I think the PTSD just took over,” Bowling said. “He knew on 9/11, the day it happened, that he would be a soldier and that he would go and fight as soon as he could.”
Johns joined the Army and left for basic training two months after graduating from Hillcrest High School in 2012. He deployed to Afghanistan in June 2013 with Bravo Troop, Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
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