According to court documents, inmates used contraband phones to join dating websites, contacting and exchanging nude images with service members across the country.
Once the targets had been reeled in, Drew Goodridge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said, inmates then posed as an authority figure, like a father or police officer, claiming the girl with whom the victim had been communicating was underage and demanding money to keep the exchanges private.
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Some of the inmates would ask others in their prison to call service members posing as police officers, according to the indictment.
They would then threaten to arrest the service members if they failed to send additional money.
In one case, an inmate, Wendell Wilkins, used a smuggled smartphone to send nude photos of young women to military members based across the country, the indictment alleged. Wilkins would then call the service members, posing as the young woman’s father and demand money to pay for counseling and medical bills his underage daughter needed to treat the trauma caused by the sexual explicit messages, according to the indictment. Wilkins arranged for the money to be sent to people outside the prison who would then take part of the money and add the rest to a prepaid debit card account that he had access to, the indictment said.