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South Carolina Inmates Allegedly Posed As Underage Girls To Blackmail Soldiers On Dating Apps
South Carolina inmates are reportedly using a dating app and the threat of an underage porn charge to catfish and blackmail Army soldiers, leading to a multi-year Army investigation dubbed 'Operation Surprise Party.'
According to an Army Criminal Investigation Command warrant submitted to a federal court on Oct. 3, a Department of Defense joint task force found that, starting in 2015, prisoners in the South Carolina Department of Corrections would pose as women "around the same age" as their targets, usually on the dating website PlentyOfFish, in order to lure military service members into sexually-charged text conversations.
After inducing their digital suitors into exchanging sexually explicit images, the prisoners would then "send a text message to the victim posing as the female's father ... [notifying] the victim that the female is under the age of 18."
With targets sufficiently freaked out, the inmates would use the threat of law enforcement intervention to extract money from service members, so that victims agree to pay for various services.
"Often the victims will pay out of the fear that they will lose their careers as there are compounding issues of conduct unbecoming and the fear that the victim truly believes they are in possession of child pornography and/or involved in the distribution of child pornography," the warrant states.
A classic sextortion trapScreenshot via 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
While prisoners in the U.S. generally receive limited access to the internet during their incarcerations, a South Carolina Fox Affiliate reported back in 2016 that inmates in the SCDC system have previously used PlentyOfFish to form legitimate romantic relationships.
Army CID declined to comment on Operation Surprise Party, and as the Daily Beast reports, the Army has not announced any charges in the sextortion ring yet.
But as recently as this past April, CID had cautioned soldiers to be on guard for "sextortion scams" where criminals "use any dishonest method to make contact with potential victims and then attempt to blackmail them."
"To avoid falling prey to a sextortionists never send compromising photos or videos of yourself to anyone, whether you know them or think you know them," Special Agent Daniel Andrews, head of CID's Computer Crime Investigative Unit, said in an Army release.
"These criminals will try to get unsuspecting service members to engage in online sexual activities and then demand money or favors in exchange for not publicizing potentially embarrassing information or turning them over to law enforcement"
Indeed, the CID alert appears to clearly reference the type of sextortion allegedly perpetrated by South Carolina inmates.
"If you meet a person on a legitimate online dating site there is very little chance that you are actually communicating with an underage person," Andrews said in the statement. "It is therefore very unlikely that you sent or received child pornography or provided your images/videos to a minor."
The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.
Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he discussed Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son in a call with Ukraine's president.
Trump's statement to reporters about his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came as the Democratic leader of a key congressional panel said the pursuit of Trump's impeachment may be the "only remedy" to the situation.
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
These CIA officers were the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 — and one was 'Marine Todd'
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The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.