young service member has never been the quintessence of
fiscal responsibility. Exorbitant purchases or financial
commitments on an E-1 or E-2 salary often leaves bank
accounts, much like the areas of the brain coordinating
these decisions, shockingly vacant.
every so often, this eccentric group of money-blowing babes
in the woods manages to surprise even itself by tunneling
even farther into the darkest depths of the financial pit of
was the case this week when Army officials and South
Carolina law enforcement revealed that young soldiers have
allegedly been getting duped into funneling cash to prison
inmates following text message exchanges featuring nude
photos of women the soldiers believed they were conversing
with, according to a U.S. Army Criminal Investigation
Command warrant obtained by the
if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
issued guidance for soldiers on how
to avoid such scams as recently as April, but with the memo
evidently falling on deaf ears, the service launched an
investigation into the matter, known as “Operation Surprise
discovered the alleged “sextortion” scheme began in 2015,
with prisoners posing on dating applications — primarily one
called PlentyofFish — as women in the same age bracket as
the targeted soldier.
making contact on the dating application, the conversations
are transferred to phone-to-phone text messaging,” the
warrant says. “After several hours to several days of
texting, the subject will either send unsolicited nude
images of a female to the victim and/or agree to trade
sexually explicit images with the victim.”
shortly after swapping nude photos with Andy Dufresne, “Red”
and “the sisters,” the unsuspecting soldier would allegedly
receive a text from another phone number belonging to a
completely different prisoner who would then pose as the
fictional girl’s father.
‘father’ then notifies the victim that the female is under
the age of 18," the warrant states. "The father will
typically state that he will leave law enforcement out of
the equation if the victim agrees to pay for various things
like cell phone replacement, counseling, hospital
service members often cave in to the pressure, the report
said, forking over the cash out of fear of repercussions
from their command as a panic sets in that they’ve
unknowingly been soliciting child pornography.
the soldiers wire the cash, a runner, who authorities have
since identified as the operation’s “money mule,” receives
the transfer and deposits the funds into a JPay account, a
payment processing system used by inmates.
also oversees distribution of South Carolina’s costly prison
tablet services, the report said, so the inmates can
directly apply the “sextorted” money to funding the online
scheme from inside the prison’s walls.
South Carolina Department of Corrections has petitioned to
end inmates' ability to use mobile communication devices
inside prisons, BBC reported, a policy change that gained
momentum in April after prisoners used contraband cell
phones to coordinate
a riot that left seven inmates dead.
Surprise Party" has not yet resulted in the filing of any
criminal charges, the report said.