honey trap

Beware The Honey Trap

As security practitioners, we are trained to be aware of our surroundings at all times while on the job. Well trained individuals should always be on guard for threats against our clients or our protected properties, but what happens when we, ourselves, become the target?

At the beginning of April it was discovered that the head of Disney’s regional security for Europe the Middle East and Africa fell victim to a “honey trap” scam. For those unfamiliar with a honey trap, it is essentially a scam in which a con artist will entice a subject with something that is desirable, gain their trust and either convince them to forfeit their valuables or obtain them by force or coercion.

Everyone has weaknesses, and, unfortunately, for Disney Security Chief Paul Kelly, that weakness appears to be women. Sources report that Mr. Kelly, while out at a bar, was approached by a female, slipped a drug and led back up to his room. After arriving at the room the drugs took effect and Mr. Kelly was rendered unconscious for several hours and later treated in hospital with potentially life threatening effects.

Read more here

As security practitioners, law enforcement officers or government employees, we may be entrusted with very sensitive information. It is crucial that we remain aware at all times; not just during our formal working hours. Be ever cognizant for something that may seem too good to be true.

As banal as it may seem, make an effort to truly understand yourself and know your weaknesses. The better we understand what might entice us, the more difficult it will be for someone to employ a honey trap against us.

There are general precautions and multiple considerations when preparing for such an eventuality:

  • Don’t follow that girl. As much of this piece is dedicated to the seduction honey trap, women who may seem especially interested in you or your profession should be treated with extreme caution.
  • Take Favors From No One. Someone who seems overly eager to help you could have an ulterior motive. By seemingly ‘hooking you up’ they may pressure you to reciprocate, often times using guilt or fear as a motivator.
  • Do your Due Diligence: Whenever possible, attempt to find information about someone who is trying to entice you. A conspicuous absence from the cybersphere, or reluctance to give information about themselves, might indicate a false identity or someone who does not wish to be identified.

These are but a few considerations. In the case of social settings such as Mr. Kelly found himself in, consider why an attractive woman might seem randomly interested in you. All of us men like to believe it’s because of our devastating good looks and overabundance of charisma, but step back from yourself and look around.

Observe the room with a critical eye and consider:

  • Are there many unattached men or women present?
  • Out of the apparently eligible men, why might this woman be interested in me?
  • Is her demeanor and dress appropriate for the setting?
  • Is there anyone present in the room that is taking an interest in our conversation/interaction?

Take special note of her behavior and demeanor during the exchange and consider:

  • Does she seem overly interested in your work or professional life?
  • Is she suggesting isolation? I.E. going up to her room, your room, or somewhere else private?
  • Does she seem nervous?
  • Is she attempting to make suggestive physical contact such as touching the knee, playing with your hair etc?
  • Be especially cognizant of someone manipulating your drinks. Do not leave a drink unattended and be aware of anyone attempting to slip some type of drug.

There are a myriad of different techniques women might employ to seduce someone and gain their trust. The ultimate goal is usually isolation. Once isolated, it will be that much easier to spring whatever trap they have planned.

Some honey traps are not a simple one night trick but may span considerable time. Foreign intelligence services have long employed the honey trap in order to develop extensive relationships and cultivate valuable intelligence. There have been multiple incidents of foreign operatives using honey traps. Much of the time, these types are cultivated slowly and the victim believes the motives of the other person are genuine. These types of traps are very difficult to counter. Read more about that here.

Honey traps are an effective means of manipulation and fraud. The fraudster need only determine one’s weakness and exploit it. As security, law enforcement or government employees we are especially vulnerable to this type of exploitation. It is incumbent upon all of us to know ourselves, our weaknesses and what someone may have to gain by seducing us. Falling prey will not only compromise us as an individual, but will negatively impact our clients, our organizations and our businesses.