Remembering Riley Basford after internet blackmail pushed him to ‘split second of madness’

Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 5:51 PM EDT
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POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - The family of Riley Basford says the 15 year old was a victim of internet blackmail before he took his own life.

They worry more than a dozen other teenagers have been approached by the very same people that pushed Riley to what his parents call “a split second of madness.”

The mission of Riley’s parents: to not let another kid be bullied and blackmailed.

We turned to 2 SUNY Canton professors who tell us parents need to be ready to defend against this sort of organized cyberbullying.

“It’s a cyberbullying event. But basically the hacker is looking for ransom first,” said Minhua Wang, SUNY Canton professor of cybersecurity.

“If we can educate ourselves, educate our kids, and educate our parents about basically the threats in cyberspace and social media,” said Kambiz Ghazinour, SUNY Canton associate professor of cybersecurity.

Hundreds came out to remember Riley Basford in Potsdam Monday evening. His nickname was “Riser.” Balloons were released during the final act of grieving and celebration.

“He was an energetic, charismatic kid who just loved people. He did,” said Darren Basford, Riley’s father.

Riley’s grieving mother, Mary Rodee, recalled the happiness her son brought.

“My son lived a wonderful life in this town. Full of so much love and support,” she said.

That’s why its even harder to understand. Riley took his own life March 30. A victim of internet blackmailers.

“This came down to really a split second of madness in a young brain that couldn’t process the finality of the decision that he was making,” said Rodee.

Riley thought he had friended a girl on Facebook, who got him to send embarrassing photos.

Police met with the family and told them they discovered Riley was told to pay $3,500 or personal photos of him would be made public.

“I had come out of that meeting mad. I came out of there steaming mad. I did not want this to happen to another family. I want to get it out there,” said Darren Basford.

“I want to figure out how this devil was able to prey on my child in such a short time,” said Rodee.

A teachable moment. From this tragedy, it’s something Riley’s parents want for everyone.

Riley’s family has established a GoFundMe page in his memory. It had raised more than $37,000 as of Tuesday.

It will be used to establish a scholarship fund and to help prevent any other child from suffering Riley’s fate.

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