WASHINGTON - NCIS announced Wednesday that it executed arrest warrants and served summonses against a "sextortion" ring that cost more than 442 military service members across the nation a combined total of $560,000.
According to the NCIS, South Carolina inmates, aided by outside civilian associates, identified and targeted military service members through social media forums and online dating websites.
The inmates used social media and dating sites to pose as women, and exchanged pictures with service members. After the service member responded, the inmates then pretended to be the woman's father and claimed she was a juvenile.
Inmates would then assume the role of police officers, demanding money on behalf of the family in exchange for not pursuing charges.
Affected service members were from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
More than 250 additional people are being investigated in connection to the sextortion ring. Charges they could face include money laundering, extortion and wire fraud targeting military service members.
"With nothing more than smart phones and a few keystrokes, South Carolina inmates along with outside accomplices victimized hundreds of people," said Daniel Andrews, Director of the Computer Crime Investigative Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. "This enforcement operation sends a clear message about our unwavering commitment to protect our nation's service members so they can focus on their mission of winning wars and defending the American way of life.
"Working with our fellow federal agencies and state partners, we will continue efforts to stamp out sexual extortion impacting our communities."
If any service members have identified suspicious activity or are being targeted by sextortion, contact a local Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal Investigation Command or Air Force Office of Special Investigations office.