Soldiers might want to think twice before sending that nude selfie — it could cost them thousands of dollars, their pride and most importantly, their military career.
Cyber sextortion is on the rise in the Fort Bragg community, and anyone who exchanges nude pictures with someone they met online is at risk for this crime, according to Chris Grey, Chief of Public Affairs, USA Criminal Investigation Command.
A typical sextortion scheme begins when a Soldier is approached on an online dating site by a female and they start chatting, explained Jason Boarts, special agent, Economic Crimes Team, Fort Bragg CID Office. The conversations then progress to exchanges of nude photographs until the Soldier finds out she is “underage.” This is where the extortion begins.
“Usually there’s a guy who says, ‘I’m her dad, do you realize what you’ve done? If you don’t give us money, we are going to law enforcement,’” said Angel Miles, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Fort Bragg CID Office.
The amount of money requested varies, said Miles. If a Soldier acquiesces to the demands, the perpetrators will continue to subject him to requests.
“When you’re a victim of extortion, once a payment’s made, they see you as an easy mark and then they start asking for more money, information, compromising information about the military and your job,” cautioned Grey.
CID officers said this is why it is so important for victims to come forward immediately. Grey said although it may be embarrassing, it is worth it to protect a Soldier’s military career or security clearance, which may be jeopardized by engaging with the criminals.
“Don’t continue to correspond and try to investigate or solve it yourself. Preserve what you have — emails, videos, phone numbers, and report it to law enforcement because if they are trying to blackmail you, it may not be over after one payment,” Grey said.
Soldiers who need to report a sextortion crime can contact Boarts at 643-4639, call 1-844-ARMY-CID or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Civilians and contractors who may be victims of sextortion should contact their local law enforcement agency. Officers said it is imperative for anyone who has any type of government security clearance to report the information to their organization’s security officer.
Miles said there is one simple thing service members can do to protect themselves from this crime.
“Don’t send nude photos!”
For more information on this and other crimes targeting Soldiers, visit www.cid.army.mil.