August 2, 2013: Canadian intelligence (CSIS) recently issued a warning to government officials (and the general public, especially businessmen) to beware of foreign countries that are increasingly using the honey trap (sexual entrapment) technique to coerce foreigners into spying for them. Some criminal gangs also use these tactics to extort money from wealthy Canadians. All you need is a pretty girl who speaks the right language and is willing to have sex with the victim so that the encounter can be recorded by hidden video cameras. And it’s not just Canadians but any country with officials or citizens with something worth stealing. CSIC also warned people with valuable information on portable devices (laptops, tablets, or smart phones) to keep a close eye on these gadgets and protect them with encryption and such. Not all of these warnings identified the main culprit, but most everyone involved knew it was China.
The use of the honey trap has become rampant in China. It’s gotten to the point where the police have been ordered to crack down on criminal gangs using it against local government officials and businessmen. This is part of the most recent anti-corruption campaign, as criminals have been using the honey trap and sexual blackmail to force corrupt Chinese officials to cooperate or simply pay up. In some cases the officials have called the bluff of the blackmailers and that resulted in videos appearing on the Internet, revealing quite graphically the extramarital escapades of corrupt officials. While this is something of a public service, the Chinese police do not approve of this sort of vigilante action against corruption. This is because the police are frequently on the payroll of corrupt politicians, which gives them another unofficial reason to go after those who use this sort of “honey trap” to fight corruption (and get rich).
The honey trap is most popular in East Asia as a way to recruit spies in other countries. China continues to use “honey trap” (sex scandal) operations with great success. The Chinese, and the Russians, have been doing this sort of thing for years. Inside China this honey pot activity has gotten out of hand because criminal entrepreneurs are using it. The videos do not always feature illicit sex. Sometimes they just show expensive watches, cars, and homes the corrupt officials have accumulated on an official salary that could never pay for all this. While this is something of a public service, most of the time the Chinese people gain nothing because the blackmailed official pays up and that’s the end of it. But government officials, especially more senior (and generally immune to prosecution) ones fear that these honey pot hustlers will snag a really senior official and do something truly unfortunate, like sell the vid to a foreign government or foreign media. Thus the current anti-corruption drive is accompanied by an even more aggressive anti-blackmailer program.
The basic problem is that the honey trap has become such an easy-to-use and profitable scam inside China. That means lots of vids released onto the net because people either didn’t pay up or there was a breakdown in communication or trust. The Internet has an insatiable appetite for this sort of thing and it’s so easy to do that a large number of people are joining in.