The inmates of South Carolina have filled their time and pose as women, browsing through social media and dating sites until a few key details caught their eye.
Short hair. Proximity to military bases. Maybe one or two photos in uniform.
Then the embassies began raising members of the capture and blackmailing services within the walls of South Carolina Prisons, which were designed with a simple and frightening scheme, the authorities said.
After romantic messages and racy photos were exchanged, the prisoners posed as the father of the fictional girl and told the victims that she was a minor, and the pictures were child pornography.
Pay money to make it disappear may, demand the inmates or the police will be notified.  A total of 442 soldiers from across the country have fallen victim to more than $ 560,000 in "sextortion," the authorities said on Wednesday after five arrests and 15 prosecutions following a hard-fought network.
"With only smartphones and a few keystrokes, South Carolina inmates have claimed hundreds of lives," said Daniel Andrews, an army investigator focused on computer crime. In a press release.
Operation Surprise Party was launched in January 2017 by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, officials said. Later, they were taken by members of the armed forces, the air force, the state and the federal government. The announcement marked the first phase of the operation, although it is unclear when the investigation started or what made the authorities aware of the practice.
More than 250 others are being investigated and could face charges against them, said Jeff Houston, a spokesperson for the NCIS.
Victim-paid troops paid for fear that their careers would be jeopardized by the fake allegations, officials said. Sometimes extortioners extorted as police. It is not clear how the blackmail ring was so sophisticated or how inmates were brought into the operation.
NCIS could not say why troops were targeted. It is possible that schemes have used the sense of integrity and professionalism to shame the military personnel. And troops are subject to both civil and military laws – which could heighten the perception that a crime would be even more personal and professional catastrophic.
Online romance scams have been frustrating military for years, disrupting military duties and undermining resources.
In a common scheme, scammers steal online photos of fit men in sharp uniforms and publish them on dating sites. Women looking for romance are picked up on invented stories by widows or lone parents who are used in combat and need money, said Christopher Gray, a spokesman for the US Army's Criminal Investigation Command.
Stories of Warfare with a Touch of Romance Helped Sell the Scam The unpredictability and long duration of the stakes was an alleged excuse for scammers never meeting the phone or making phone calls, Gray told The Washington Post on Wednesday.
In recent years, calls have flooded military investigation bureaus and other orders. Women wanted information about troops who took money and disappeared. However, the troops were unknowingly used, Gray said.
The calls are still coming, Gray said. Increasingly, suspicious targets are now calling to see if a wartime love story is too good to be true.
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