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Honey trapping is an investigative practice involving the use of romantic or sexual relationships for interpersonal, political (including state espionage), or monetary purpose. The honey pot or trap involves making contact with an individual who has information or resources required by a group or individual; the trapper will then seek to entice the target into a false relationship (which may or may not include actual physical involvement) in which they can glean information or influence over the target.
The term "honey trap" is also used when dating sites are used to gain access to a victim.
Private investigators are often employed to create a honey pot by wives, husbands, and other partners usually when an illicit romantic affair is suspected of the "target", or subject of the investigation. Occasionally, the term may be used for the practice of creating an affair for the purpose of taking incriminating photos for use in blackmail. A honey trap is used primarily to collect evidence on the subject of the honey trap. Honey trapping is used in getting a new user addicted to illegal drugs and also for drug smuggling.
Honey trapping has a long history of use in espionage.
During the Cold War, female agents called "Mozhno girls" or "Mozhnos" were used by the KGB of the USSR to spy on foreign officials by seducing them. The name Mozhno comes from the Russian word "mozhno" (Russian: можно), meaning "it is permitted", as these agents were allowed to breach regulations restricting Russian contact with foreigners.
In 2009, the British MI5 distributed a 14-page document to hundreds of British banks, businesses, and financial institutions, titled "The Threat from Chinese Espionage". It described a wide-ranging Chinese effort to blackmail Western business people over sexual relationships. The document explicitly warns that Chinese intelligence services are trying to cultivate "long-term relationships" and have been known to "exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships ... to pressurise individuals to co-operate with them."
Each assignment varies depending on what the agent and client decide on during their prior consultation. A common assignment consists of the agent initiating contact with the subject through face-to-face interaction. The agent will attempt to take the communication further into other outlets including: e-mail, text messaging, phone calls, etc. The step after this can be considered the most crucial moment of the assignment. The agent will propose a second meeting to the subject. Whether or not the subject agrees to further communication will determine whether the assignment will go deeper or come to an end. Hotels are often used as a meeting place to determine whether the subject intends for the relationship to escalate. Once the investigation comes to an end, the agent will turn over any record of communication they had with the subject. Other documents that are recorded include: photographs, videos, venue appointments, etc.
- Femme fatale
- Honeypots in espionage fiction
- Operation Midnight Climax – a covert CIA program to investigate the use of LSD on San Francisco men in fake brothels. Brothels were used because men would be less likely to report drugging in brothels to police.
- Salon Kitty – a Berlin brothel used by the SS for espionage during World War II.
- Love bombing
- Robin Sage - a fictional cyber threat analyst that demonstrated the effectiveness of honey trapping within the US Intelligence Community
- ^ "Fermanagh women deny honey-trap attack plot". Belfasttelegraph.
- ^ "Single father killed in 'honey-trap' after meeting date on Plenty of Fish website".
- ^ "Honey-trap gang lures victims on dating sites, extorts money, threatens with fake rape case".
- ^ Kelland, Kate. "Private Eye Defends Integrity of 'Honey Trapping'" Reuters 13 Feb. 2008. 18 Feb. 2008.
- ^ "I fell for cocaine honeytrap, claims British physicist in Argentine jail". The Telegraph.
- ^ K, Ashoka M. (August 31, 2020). "Indrajit Lankesh links Sandalwood drug abuse to KPL and honey trap". Deccan Chronicle.
- ^ a b Deacon, Richard (1987). Spyclopedia: the comprehensive handbook of espionage. W. Morrow. p. 405.
- ^ Phillip Knightley, The History of the Honey Trap. Five lessons for would-be James Bonds and Bond girls – and the men and women who would resist them, Foreign Policy, (March 12, 2010).