Meta hands over Instagram data in 'sextortion' case of 16-year-old boy

The teenager was contacted on social media by someone claiming to be a young girl but was actually a scammer.

Meta hands over Instagram data to Police Scotland in ‘sextortion’ case of 16-year-old Murray Dowey

Meta, owners of Facebook and Instagram, said it has “fully cooperated” with police following the death of a 16-year-old boy.

Murray Dowey, from Dunblane, was 16 when he took his own life on December 30, 2023 after becoming victim to sextortion scams on the social media platform Instagram.

The teenager was contacted on social media by someone claiming to be a young girl but was actually a scammer, who tricked him into sending an intimate image and then blackmailed him with it.

Police Scotland confirmed on Thursday that data requested from Meta has now been received.

A Meta spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the Dowey family during this difficult time.

“We’ve fully cooperated with law enforcement in this investigation, including responding to any data requests.”

Sextortion scams can be perpetrated by individuals but the majority are committed by organised crime groups operating overseas, who often target young men with fake images, before blackmailing them for money.

Reports to The Revenge Porn Helpline doubled in 2023 reaching nearly 19,000, with sextortion making up over a third of those reports.

Ros Dowey, Murray’s mother, told ITV News in April: “That evening we were just chatting and watching rubbish on telly…We were just a normal family of five.

“To the next morning, we’re down to four people with a huge Murray-shaped gap that’s never going to go away.

“He’s my little boy. To think of my little boy in such distress and not to reach out for help, it’s awful.”

Mark Dowey, Murray’s father, said he was “sitting watching the football, next thing I heard was Ros screaming, screams like I’ve never heard in my life before… it was horrendous.”

Murray was a season ticket holder at his local club Stirling AlbionFamily handout

He added: “He was a very normal, easy-going, helpful boy, had a great sense of humour…I can’t believe he’s gone.

“One of the reasons it is so devastating as it comes into your house, exactly where Murray should have been safest in his room, asleep.

“So there’s very little you can do to protect them.”

Help and support is available now if you need it. Details of services available can be found at 

The Samaritans can be contacted any time, from any phone, free on 116 123, email at, or visit to find your nearest branch. Details of other services and more information can be found on the NHS website here. 

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