Seductive messages and intimate photos shake up Westminster

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Ambush is the oldest trap in the world. A charming woman or man, a naive prey, then fearful or weak, this is how dozens of spies have acted for centuries to put pressure on influential people or to obtain secret information. No need to live in China or Russia to have confidential data extracted.

Since last week, Westminster has been shaken by its own scandal, revealed by “Politico”. The den of British politics was the victim of spies or scammers (fraud professionals) who obtained the telephone numbers of at least seventeen people, almost all men, MPs, parliamentary assistants and journalists.

Ongoing investigation

The police were informed on March 19 after Conservative MP Luke Evans filed a complaint. “I received a first series of photos of a naked woman while I was with my wife,” he explained. He filed a complaint the next day with the authorities and his party.

“Times” journalist Harry Yorke, also targeted, developed at length the approach of the scammer(s). Charlie or Abi, the two aliases used, claims in his first message to know his victim personally. The journalist obviously doesn’t remember her, but he thinks that if “she had my number, then we must have spoken before”.

They have a few exchanges, then she explains to him that they met a few years earlier in one of the parliament bars, where they had flirted. She then sends him a link to a photo of herself. Link he didn’t open.

“He manipulated me”

Other men targeted were not as suspicious. Among them, William Wragg. A 36-year-old Conservative MP, he admitted to the “Times” that he was behind the arrival of this scam within parliament. “I chatted with a man on a dating app and we exchanged photos. We were supposed to meet up for a drink, but we didn’t. Then he started asking me for phone numbers. I was worried because he had compromising things on me. I told him to stop. He wouldn’t leave me alone. I was afraid. I gave him some numbers, not all. He manipulated me. I’m mortified. I’m really sorry for hurting other people by being weak.”

William Wragg is not the only one to have sent an intimate photo of himself. Other MPs would have done the same, according to “The Times”. As Labor members were also targeted, some of them may also have given telephone numbers.

His apology was accepted by his party, but some victims cringed. “Unlike some MPs, I am not satisfied with Wragg,” said MP Andrea Jenkyns, also targeted by this scam on WhatsApp, which she immediately reported to the police. “His behavior is unforgivable, he compromised the security of his parliamentary colleagues. I don’t think he’s brave! He’s an imbecile!”

Even if the motivation of the scammers is not yet known, this case comes as the government has recently expressed its concern about the risk of espionage from several foreign countries. Last September, a parliamentary employee was arrested after being accused of spying for China. He notably had access to the Deputy Minister for Security, Tom Tugendhat.

This article is originally published on .tdg.ch

 

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