One catfish is terrible enough, but our next case of catfish misbehaving focuses on 15 people from North and South Carolina, who were indicted in a 2018 federal court! The biggest shocker of the situation is that these crimes, from 2015 to 2017, occurred when inmates in the above state developed a complicated scheme to extort money from members of the United States Military.
To frame military members for sex crimes and extort money from them. This is the true story of how this sextortion ring worked and conned over 400 people. Plus, everything you need to know to avoid being tricked the next time you, or someone you love, uses an online dating app!
Operation Surprise Party and the Inmate’s Complicated Sextortion Con
Those who developed the plan probably thought it was a perfect crime. Safe from their jailhouse, they could smuggle smartphones into the prison and use internet access to acquire funds from U.S. Military personnel fraudulently.
Once these inmates had their smuggled smartphones, they would sign up for dating apps and make connections with anyone who was in the military. Using images they stole off the internet, they would exchange racy nude pictures with the men they connected with. Those men being conned would think that they were connecting with an attractive female of consenting age.
In reality, the person behind the scenes was an inmate setting up his con! Once the inmate traded pics with the Military member, they would send a separate message and pose as a concerned father. They would “explain” that the woman the soldier or naval member had been talking to was not 18+, but an underage girl.
They would either threaten to contact the police and military authorities or say that they needed money for counseling and medical bills. Terrified of being reprimanded, shamed, or having to register as a sex offender, many victims believed this con and sent money.
U.S. Attorney, Sherri A. Lydon, said this:
After retrieving the wired money, these ten individuals would then provide the named inmates with access to the wire funds through various methods at the inmates’ direction, including the use of pre-paid debit cards. In some instances, the individuals provided the named inmates with debit card numbers so they could access the criminal proceeds in prison via smartphones. Other times, the individuals wired the money directly into the inmates’ prison accounts.
All of this was illegal and once the Naval Criminal Investigative Services, I.R.S. – Criminal Investigations, and numerous other (at least 6) organizations began to investigate, the facts compiled quickly. Those inmates who participated in the con and those who helped them were caught and indicted.
The case has drawn attention to problems within the prison system and how inmates can smuggle phones inside.
Have you ever had a catfish pretend to be someone they aren’t and ask you for money? If anyone poses as an adult online and then threatens to extort from you, be sure to contact the police yourself. Scammers and online thieves take advantage of the fear hard-working soldiers have of getting in trouble.
Remember the golden rule for Social Catfish users, if anyone you meet online asks you for money, do not give it to them. Cybercriminals will do and say anything to get your cash! Many are highly skilled con artists that lie and trick for a living. Have you lost money online?
Consider filing a complaint with the F.T.C. and get help from the government. If you’re uncertain whether or not you have met a legitimate individual or are at risk of being conned by a professional or amateur catfish, get help from Social Catfish. Social Catfish users know the power of the internet and how our tools can help them avoid being tricked!
Social Catfish’s high powered algorithm will help you to verify identity and background check an online love, date, or acquaintance. Search name, username, images, email address, or phone number today and find out the truth! If you need additional one-on-one support, consider hiring one of our support specialists!