- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 28, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

An estimated 400 members of the U.S. military fell prey to a sex extortion scheme allegedly perpetrated by inmates of South Carolina and North Carolina prison systems, and by their blackmailing assistants.

Talk about an eye-opener of a story.

How the scheme reportedly worked is the inmates would pretend to be young women interested in getting together and getting to know members of the military. According to law enforcement officials, the inmates would then send naked photos of the young women they were pretending to be to those service members who expressed interest.

In return, the inmates, still pretending to be young women, would then allegedly ask the service members to return the nude photo favor and send one of their own.

“At that point, the inmates would get somebody to call the military service person and pose as either the father of the nonexistent young woman or a police officer,” The State reported. “They told the service member that the young woman was an underage girl and demand money to keep the matter hushed up and not tell military authorities.”

How were the inmates reportedly able to accomplish these deeds?

Well, for one, with the more than 4,000 contraband cellphones that were seized in South Carolina prisons alone in the last year.

That’s not to say what’s in North Carolina’s prisons — or in prisons across the nation.

This sex extortion plot ensnared more than 400 military members — military members who frequently gladly paid out of fear they would be booted from their fields of service for engaging in unlawful relations with minor-age girls.

Apparently, allegedly, the plot was lucrative for the inmates and their helpers.

Officials reported more than $500,000 had been paid to the blackmailers.

Justice Department officials held a press conference outside the South Carolina Department of Corrections headquarters in Columbia to announce indictments against 15 individuals — including five inmates.

“[We want to] sound the alarm that these kinds of scams are a significant threat to our military and to the citizens of South Carolina,” said U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Sherri Lydon.

Indeed.

Not only do prison guards need to crack down on unlawful cellphone usage and possession in the nation’s jails.

But also the brave members of America’s military need to be on guard — very, very on guard.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ckchumley.


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