Scam US Troops in Sextortion Scheme
from military criminal investigative organizations executed arrest
warrants and served summonses today on a sextortion ring for money
laundering, extortion and wire fraud targeting military service members.
This is the first phase of Operation Surprise Party, an investigation
initiated in January 2017 by Naval Criminal Investigative Service and
also worked by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal
Investigation Command and Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
The military law enforcement community was aided by several partners,
including the U.S. Attorney's Office, Internal Revenue Service, United
States Marshals Service, Department of Energy, South Carolina and North
Carolina local agencies, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and
the South Carolina Department of Corrections.
These online schemes cost 442 service members from the Army, Navy, Air
Force and Marine Corps from across the United States more than $560,000
in financial loss.
South Carolina inmates, aided by outside civilian associates, identified
and targeted military service members through social media forums and
online dating websites. The prisoners, using fictitious online personas,
preyed on service members to engage in online romantic relationships and
then extort the service members for money.
Inmates used various social media platforms and dating sites posing as a
female, exchanging pictures with service members. After the service
member responded, prisoners would then assume a role of the female's
father, who claimed the female was a juvenile. Prisoners would also
assume the role of a police officer or someone in a position of
authority, demanding money, on behalf of the family, in exchange for not
pursuing charges through law enforcement channels.
Military members would then pay, fearful they might lose their careers
over possessing what they were being led to believe was child
There are more than 250 additional people who are being investigated and
face potential future prosecution.
"This despicable targeting of our brave service members will never be
tolerated," said Director Andrew Traver of Naval Criminal Investigative
Service. "We will not allow criminal networks to degrade the readiness
of our military force. We were able to complete this first phase because
of the excellent work by all our law enforcement partners, who are
dedicated to helping protect our military service members. This
operation will continue until we break the back of these criminal
"The Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the criminal investigative
arm of the Department of Defense – Office of Inspector General, stands
ready with our military and law enforcement partners, to combat
criminals who seek to extort or defraud our military service members,
dependents, and DoD civilians," said Special Agent in Charge Robert E.
Craig, Jr. of the DCIS Mid-Atlantic Field Office. "Too many service
members from throughout the armed services have fallen victim to this
scam and these actions detract from the readiness and well-being of our
nothing more than smart phones and a few keystrokes, South Carolina
inmates along with outside accomplices victimized hundreds of people,"
said Daniel Andrews, Director of the Computer Crime Investigative Unit
of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. "This enforcement
operation sends a clear message about our unwavering commitment to
protect our nation's service members so they can focus on their mission
of winning wars and defending the American way of life. Working with our
fellow federal agencies and state partners, we will continue efforts to
stamp out sexual extortion impacting our communities."
"The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is the primary federal
investigative agency for serious criminal issues affecting U.S. Air
Force installations and personnel worldwide," said Air Force Colonel
Kirk B. Stabler, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Commander.
"Sexual extortion is a global crime that evolves as quickly as social
media technology, if not faster. In this case, our partnership with our
fellow military law enforcement agencies, South Carolina state law
enforcement officials, the U.S. Attorney's Office and other federal
agencies, brought together key capabilities which led to this successful
joint investigative operation."
If any service members have identified suspicious activity or are being
targeted by sextortion, contact a local Naval Criminal Investigative
Service, Army Criminal Investigation Command or Air Force Office of
Special Investigations office.