Scams Artists from China Target Unwitting Security Clearance Applicants
I have noticed an uptick in the number of Defense Office of Hearing an Appeals (DOHA) cases involving security clearance applicants who unwittingly fell for scams involving foreign nationals from China. How does this happen? Here are two actual DOHA case scenarios:
This security clearance applicant meets a Chinese woman online in 2018, becomes smitten, they exchange photos, and eventually she tells him she is in danger and needs help to escape to Togo. She asks for him to send small amounts of money at first, and hints at rewarding him with a big payoff once she gets to where she wants to go. Of course, this was just a lure to get him to bite and get more money out of him, and it worked. Sending money to someone you have never even met sounds crazy, right? This kind of scam works more often than you would think.
In another scenario, in 2017 the applicant gets an unsolicited email from a woman in China, and they start an online relationship that involves sending sexual photos and videos of each other back and forth. Out of the blue, the woman says she needs to move money from her clients and asks him to open new bank accounts, deposit the money, and then send it to two other unknown people. He complies and even sends some of his own money via Bitcoin to help her with living expenses all the way up to a week before his appeal hearing. During the hearing he was asked by the judge if this was suspicious. The applicant said not at first, but now after thinking about it he believes it was a scam. Needless to say, his poor judgement in not recognizing he was being manipulated by a foreign national resulted in being denied clearance eligibility. Oh, almost forgot, he intentionally didn’t list the foreign national on the SF-86 because of embarrassment.