QUANTICO, Va. -- The Army Criminal Investigation Command is cautioning Soldiers to beware of a form of cyber extortion in which criminals engage in online sexual activities with a victim and then demand money or favors in exchange for not publicizing potentially embarrassing information.
In these "sextortion" scams, the extortionist will convince a Soldier to send a compromising photo or engage in a sexually explicit video chat, then threaten to send the compromising images to the Soldier's command, family and friends unless "hush money" is paid, according to CID's Computer Crime Investigative Unit (CCIU).
CID officials say Soldiers who are caught in the scam may reluctantly give in to the extortionist's financial demands or blackmail in hopes of protecting their careers or avoiding embarrassment.
"Be cautious of your online communications and do not share intimate, personal information with strangers or people you have never met in person," advised Special Agent Daniel Andrews, director of CCIU.
According to Andrews, victims who give in to the extortionists' demands will be at risk of further exploitation. He encourages victims to seek the assistance of law enforcement.
"[Further exploitation] can include demands for additional payments, more sexual images, sensitive military information, or access to Army systems and facilities," Andrews said. "So early notification to law enforcement is important."
If you have been the victim of a sextortion scam, please adhere to the following:
-- Do not send money. CID has received reports of instances where scammers threatened to release videos unless a second or even third payment is made.
-- Do not continue to correspond with an extortionist.
-- Do preserve whatever information you have collected from the extortionist, such as the extortionist's social networking profile, email accounts, and where the extortionist directed you to send the money.
-- Do notify CCIU at email@example.com or 571-305-4478 to report being a victim if you are a service member or an Army civilian employee. If you are not associated with the military, report the crime to your local police department, Department of Homeland Security Investigations at Assistance.Victim@ice.dhs.gov, or the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
For more information about computer security, other computer-related scams and to review previous cyber-crime alert notices and cyber-crime prevention flyers, visit the Army CID CCIU website at http://www.cid.army.mil/cciu-advisories.html.
For more information on CID or to report a felony-level crime or provide information concerning a crime, contact your local CID Office or the Military Police or visit www.cid.army.mil.