His son committed suicide following sextortion scam. Now he’s suing Meta to prevent others

ATLANTA — A father is turning the loss of his son into a personal mission.

A sextortion scam targeted his entire family and South Carolina state Rep. Brandon Guffey says the company that runs sites like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp could have done more to prevent his son Gavin’s death.

“I see Meta as the big tobacco of today,” Guffey told Channel 2′s Karyn Greer.

Guffey makes these accusations after losing his son in what’s now known as a sextortion scam.

Criminals online targeted the teenager posing as a young, female, volleyball player and asked him to send explicit photos. When he did, the account asked him for money and threatened to share the photos.

“After the picture is sent out, you typically get a message saying, well now you’re going to pay me,” Thomas McAfee with the FBI Atlanta Division of Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking said.


McAfee also told Channel 2 Action News during an interview in November that the number of sextortion cases in Georgia have increased by 700% since 2021.

In Gavin’s situation, one case turned deadly in just hours.

“As soon as Gavin exchanged images, they began to extort him for money. At about 1:40 a.m., he ended up taking his life,” Guffey told Greer.

Now, Guffey is taking on what he considers to be the problem: those who run social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

So, he filed an 81-page complaint in court.


The wrongful death lawsuit against Meta is filed on behalf of his son. It also accuses the company of targeting vulnerable populations to increase advertising sales, blaming Meta for a contribution to the mental health crisis in America, and ignoring research on social media and mental health.

“They are aware of the problems that they’re causing,” Guffey said.

In a response to this story, a Meta spokesperson sent Channel 2 Action News this statement:

“We want teens to have safe, age-appropriate experiences online, and we have over 30 tools and features to support them and their parents. We encourage teens and adults to report suspicious content, activity or accounts to us if they feel unsafe and we reach out to law enforcement in cases of imminent harm. Teens can also use NCMEC’s Take It Down, a platform we supported that helps prevent young people’s intimate images from being posted online in the future.”

Meanwhile, Guffey said he receives one or two phone calls a day dealing with children going through sextortion scams.

“What would you say to parents? How can parents at home protect their children from them?” Greer asked Guffey.

“You know, we feel safe whenever our child’s back in the bedroom and that is simply not the case,” Guffey said.

Guffey continues to urge parents to speak about this issue with their children sooner than later even though it’s uncomfortable.

Shortly after taking office, Guffey passed “Gavin’s Law” in his son’s name. It makes it a felony to target a minor or at-risk adults in a sextortion scam.

If you want to speak to your child about this issue, but don’t know where to begin, the Georgia Attorney General’s Office has some online resources, including videos you can watch together.