An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

Sextortion scams on the rise

Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 807 reminds Team Schriever members to practice safe cyber security habits. Sextortion, a cybercrime involving the threat to distribute private, sexually- explicit materials unless a payment is made to the perpetrators, is on the rise worldwide. To report suspicious activity, contact the AFOSI Detachment 807 at 567-5049. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 807 reminds Team Schriever members to practice safe cyber security habits. Sextortion, a cybercrime involving the threat to distribute private, sexually- explicit materials unless a payment is made to the perpetrators, is on the rise worldwide. To report suspicious activity, contact the AFOSI Detachment 807 at 567-5049. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In the cyber world, it is important for Team Schriever members to always be mindful about the various internet scams.

Every day, hackers and scammers use various illegal cyber techniques such as phishing, cyber stalking and identity theft. Another possibly less known cyber concern is sextortion, a scam officially recognized in 2012.

Sextortion is a cybercrime involving the threat to distribute private, sexually- explicit materials unless a payment is made to the perpetrators.

“The perpetrator is going to navigate those conversations and may offer up videos and pictures, but that doesn’t mean that’s who the victims are actually are talking to,” said Michael Ornelaz, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 807 special agent. “Everything is a ruse in order to get money from the other person. Unfortunately, this is a very personal way of forcing someone to pay.”

The State and Justice Departments identified online dating and romantic scams as a significant concern to all U.S. citizens. Every day international scam reports are made regarding U.S. citizens of all ages and backgrounds.

“Once the hook is in the fish’s mouth they are reeled in,” said Ryan Cobb, AFOSI Detachment 807 special agent. “The perpetrators are like fishermen; they put their bait where they think they’re going to have the best results. This is a business.”

Sextortion is a worldwide issue and anybody may be a potential target; however U.S. service members are particularly vulnerable, authorities say, because they have a steady income and their conduct is closely regulated.

“We wanted to push this message out especially to Schriever Airmen,” said Ornelaz. “Many of the Airmen here are cyber operations professionals and are plugged into the technological world. They work hard and are going through problems every day. Putting something like this on their shoulders causes even more stress, and we want them to be aware of the risks and know this can be resolved as long as it is reported it to the proper authorities.”

AFOSI has documented approximately 40 victims of sextortion in the past three years, totaling approximately $14,000 in losses.

“One thing that is important to remember is that this is not a trade where you give them money and they give you something in return,” Cobb said. “People have it in their mind that if they hand over the money, there’s a secret deal going on, but they will still have what they’re holding over you.”

Shortly after the scam started, the Department of Defense and AFOSI have been providing awareness training to address the dangers of sextortion and the preventative measures to take.

“The best practice is to avoid the situation by not engaging in that type of activity,” Ornelaz said. “If it does happen, notify somebody and don’t pay. Many of our Airmen are always cautious of their careers, and are willing to make that sacrifice to pay because they don’t want anything on their record. However, we want them to notify us as early as possible, so they don’t go through thousands of dollars. Offering up payment is only going to create more problems down the road.”

Certain measures DOD members can take to prevent this scam are to constantly be aware of any information released online, adjust social media privacy settings, update antivirus software and safeguard personal banking and credit card information from unknown recipients.

To report any suspicious activity or for anyone being targeted, cease all communication with the individual and contact your command or local AFOSI detachment at 567-5049. Individuals may also call the AFOSI Hotline at 1-877-246-1453 or the Schriever Air Force Base Helpline at 567-4357.
Previous Story
Next Story