An Indian soldier has been “honey trapped” into giving sensitive information to a fake Pakistani Facebook account, highlighting the widespread “catfishing” problem facing India’s military.
Sombir Singh, 22, was stationed near the India-Pakistan border when he struck up an intimate online relationship with an account he believed to be operated by an Indian army medical officer.
Over the course of a year, the soldier revealed sensitive information, including troop and tank movements to his fake lover.
“He was honey-trapped via Facebook from a lady in Pakistan,” Umesh Mishra, additional director general of police (intelligence) for the Rajasthan Police, told CNN. India and neighboring Pakistan are long-time military rivals.
The pair shared erotic and intimate messages, as well as explicit photographs, according to officials.
The account, which still appears to be active, was created under the name Anika Chopra. The profile picture shows a woman wearing a green sari.
The low-ranking soldier had received money via his brother’s account from his online lover, Rajesh Meena, superintendent of police, State Special Branch, Rajasthan Police, told CNN.
“She started getting confidential information about the army in lieu of which he received money,” Mishra said.
Singh was arrested Friday and, if convicted, faces up to three years in prison under the country’s Official Secrets Act.
Film star Facebook friends
The Indian army is battling a widespread outbreak of Pakistani “catfishing” – when someone is lured into a relationship by a fictional online persona – army chief Bipin Rawat said last week.
Rawat said that “a lot of people” had fallen victim to the online scams. Warnings against suspicious profiles had been issued to army personnel, he added.
“For those people who are not reporting the matter, if it comes to our notice that they have been continuously flouting the rules of social media, the punishment being meted is heavy,” he said Thursday.
“We are taking this very seriously and can’t allow the compromise of security through … social media.”
The scammers “from across the border” use Bollywood actresses’ names to entice recruits into online relationships, said Rawat, urging troops to be skeptical of such accounts.
“I tell my boys, Do you think that your film star wants to become friendly with you?” he said. “But yet people are getting trapped by these names. We have told them, Be careful, don’t go into these things.”
Mishra added that the Indian army was monitoring the online activities of soldiers, and that this surveillance had raised the red flag in the case of Singh.
“We have seized his mobile (phone) and his digital footprints are being investigated,” said Mishra.