MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D., --
A recent trend in online crime is targeting Airmen via social media and dating applications. It is being called “Sextortion.”
How many times have we received emails about winning the lottery or that a deceased member of a royal family is our distant relative and we need to wire money to get our inheritance?
The way crime chooses to target military personnel continues to evolve as fast as the advancing world of technology allows it.
We as Airmen need to be aware of these trends and protect ourselves and our wingmen from the possible harm that it can bring about.
An Airman who is looking to date or connect could be contacted via Facebook or any other popular app by what appears to be an attractive person. The requester will often do research using social media to find familiar names or acquaintances to put the unsuspecting Airman at ease. Over time, the conversation turns to video chat requests and invitations for the Airman to undress or perform sexually explicit acts. What these Airmen don’t know is the video coming from the other side is often fake and they are being recorded.
Suddenly, the screen goes blank; the requester informs the Airman about the recording and threatens to release the video unless they send money or enter their credit card information into a recorder, which is often a subscription to a pornographic site.
Though cases of this most often involve male Airmen, the same situation applies whether the victim is male or female.
“This is actually happening to our Airmen,” said Maj. Carlos De Dios, 5th Bomb Wing deputy staff judge advocate. “We are seeing people swindled out of thousands of dollars.”
Another similar strategy being used lures Airmen into thinking they have accidentally committed a crime. However, this time after explicit comments, pictures or videos are shared, the perpetrator puts on a guardian role and tells the Airman the person they were communicating with was underage.
The perpetrator will then instruct the Airman to send money to be used to “cancel phone contracts” or other such purposes in order to protect the alleged underage person. The hope is that the Airman will be too nervous to recognize that the scheme is false or too nervous to seek help.
Don’t be a victim to one of these schemes! Just knowing these strategies to steal money from you is a start, but you should still take other precautions to prevent this from happening to you.
Here are some tips to further protect yourself:
- Adjust your social media privacy settings.
- Avoid engaging in sexually explicit activities/sharing compromising photos and videos online.
- Make sure that your computer anti-virus software is up-to-date
- If you are not using your devices, make sure that the camera is disabled.
- Most of all, use your common sense.
If you are victim of this type of targeting:
- Stop all communications with the sextortionist
- Don’t send any money
- Save all the conversations and information you have had
- contact your commander, AFOSI and base legal office.
Finally, watch out for your wingman. We all have a responsibility to watch out for one another so we can accomplish the mission. Spread the word and let’s not let this sort of thing continue to happen.