You’re scrolling through Facebook like any other day when a friend request pops up from a pretty girl. You accept, and she sends you a naughty picture. You send one back, just to be polite, or maybe because she asked nicely. Maybe you move the conversation onto Skype for a live show. But then she demands money, hundreds of dollars, and threatens to send your naked photo to your friends, your family and — worst of all — your employer.
Because when your employer is the U.S. government, the fallout can be severe.
Law enforcement officials have dubbed the scam “sextortion,” and it happens all over the world. But American military personnel are particularly vulnerable, authorities say, because they have a steady income and their conduct is closely regulated. Hundreds of service members every year are falling into this trap, and many are handing over thousands of dollars with hopes the problem will go away — often to no avail. And now U.S. officials fear that foreign enemies could exploit the same tricks to obtain sensitive information and compromise national security.