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'Operation Surprise Party'
#1
Many of you may have seen this (below) yesterday.

Quote:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Military Investigation Services along with State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies to Hold Press Conference at the Department of Corrections in Columbia on Wednesday, November 28, 2018
The press conference will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the South Carolina Department of Corrections, located at 4460 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC 29210
Columbia, South Carolina --- United States Attorney Sherri Lydon announced that a press conference will be held on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at the Department of Corrections, located at 4460 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC 29210.
Represented at the press conference will be members of the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID), Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Services (DCIS), Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), United States Marshals Service (USMS), the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

I know a lot of people were hoping some arrests of high-up people were going to be announced, but it turns out it was some inmates extorting service members from behind bars.

While it's not what we were hoping for, it's good that we are dealing with this issue.

There is a video in the article toward the bottom where you can watch the press conference.

Quote:SC, NC inmates busted in ‘Operation Surprise Party’ sextortion scheme of military members linked to contraband cellphone

[Image: ZVSSYUTJ2ZDJDP2CHIAPYOBOVY.jpg]
GF Default - WATCH: US Attorney, military investigation services hold press conference at SC DOC


By Tanita Gaither  and Caroline Hecker | November 28, 2018 at 9:12 AM EST - Updated November 28 at 11:40 AM
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - U.S. District Attorney Sherri Lydon announced the unsealing of a multi-defendant indictment where a number of inmates at South and North Carolina prisons created a ‘sextortion’ ring to take advantage of U.S. military servicemembers and used contraband cellphones to do so.

The two-year, multi-state investigation, dubbed “Operation: Surprise Party” alleges that 15 people inside and outside of the Department of Corrections used contraband cellphones to extort more than 400 servicemembers through online dating websites posing as young women.

When the inmate would begin an online relationship with the servicemember, Lydon says inmates would send nude photos of a woman and ask for nudes in return.

Once the servicemember sent their nude photos, the inmate would pose as the young woman’s father and demand money in exchange for not being reported to officers for having nude photos of an underaged woman.

NCIS has been investigating the ring for nearly two years. All arrests were made without incident, according to the U.S. Marshal’s office. It is “one of many” criminal organizations taking place in our prisons, officials said.

Quote:IRS says ring starts with contraband cell phones...used to allegedly access dating websites. Used family and friends outside of prison to help them. Inmates in both NC and SC are allegedly involved. @wis10 Call it a “sexstortion” ring.
— Caroline Hecker (@CHecker_WIS) November 28, 2018

The victims range in rank and are stationed at bases and posts across the country. In all, more than 440 servicemembers have had more than $560,000 in financial losses due to this scheme.
Once they received the money, inmates would use family members and friends outside of the prison to put the money in bank accounts and online banking services to deposit and use the money.

Quote:Inmates would allegedly pose as father of the online girls, asking for money to avoid calling the cops. More than 440 service members affected and more than $500,000 was allegedly extorted on behalf of the inmates involved. @wis10
— Caroline Hecker (@CHecker_WIS) November 28, 2018

South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Brian Stirling continued to bring up the major issues with contraband cellphones.

“They’re physically incarcerated but they’re virtually among us,” Stirling said.
The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, Lydon said.

Those involved with the investigation include: Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID), Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Services (DCIS), Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), United States Marshals Service (USMS), the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.


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