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Formery Tory MP William Wragg.

Explainer: How the 'honeytrap' sexting scandal has rocked Westminster

A scammer blackmailed a Tory MP into giving him the phone numbers of other political figures by threatening to release ‘compromising’ images and information.

THE ‘HONEYTRAP’ SEXTING scandal has caused chaos in Westminster in recent weeks, it has the MP at the centre of the controversy resign from his party, and another go public about being a victim of scam texts, and “blowing the whistle” to police. 

It’s emerged that a senior Tory MP, William Wragg, gave the phone numbers of his colleagues and associates over to an anonymous person on a dating app, amid personal fears that intimate images of him would be leaked after he was targeted in a sexting scam. 

Scotland Yard is investigating the sexting scam, as 12 men in political circles including serving ministers, MPs, party staffers and journalists received unsolicited messages that raised security concerns. 

The BBC yesterday reported that the Metropolitan Police were first made aware of suspicious messages targeting men at Westminster late last year, but did not warn MPs. 

The BBC said that many of those targeted with unsolicited messages didn’t realise it was happening to others as well until media reports on the sexting scam were published last week. 

Another Conservative MP, Dr Luke Evans, has come forward and said that he was a victim of the sexting scam, and that it was he who first alerted police to the messages. 

In a facebook post six days ago, said that the unsolicited messages came over WhatsApp in the previous month. 

Evans said that initially he received a message with a picture of a naked woman, and that the next day he reported it to the police, the authorities and the Tory chief whip. 

“Ten days later I got another set of messages, this time however, I was sat with my team in the constituency office, so we were able to record the conversation and catch photos and videos of the messages coming through including another explicit female image,” he added. 

Evans went on to say that he was coming forward because he has been “hounded by journalists”, but he would have prefered for the information to remain private. 

“I’m just pleased I blew the whistle, reported it to the authorities and it’s now being looked into,” he went on to say. 

Wragg, the MP who resigned the Tory whip and admitted to handing out the phone numbers of others, told The Times that he was “scared” because the scammer had compromising information on him. 

“They wouldn’t leave me alone. They would ask for people. I gave them some numbers, not all of them. I told him to stop. He’s manipulated me and now I’ve hurt other people,” he said. 

Initially, Wragg got chatting to someone on a dating app, exchanged pictures, and then arranged to go on a drink, which never happened. 

He’s since apologised for his actions and for his “weakness”. 

Last week Politico reported that the scammer who went on to text other political figures would allege that he had already met them, and would pose as someone called either “Charlie” or “Abi”, and they would also send information about the person and campaigns they had worked on. 

The honeytrap sexting scam has been described as “spear phishing”, a type of cyber attack that targets specific groups.

Spear phishing involves scammers pretending to be trusted senders in order to steal personal or sensitive information.

Scammers will often threaten to release compromising information on the person they are targeting if they don’t comply with demands, even in cases where they don’t actually have any information or images. Anyone being targeted and blackmailed in this way can go to the gardaí, as sextortion is a crime. More information is available here. 

Tory Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has praised Wragg’s “courageous” apology, but did not respond to questions on whether the MP was pushed to resign from the Conservative Party. 

He said that the scandal is “very concerning”, and that it is a reminder to MPs and members of the public that they need to be mindful of cybersecurity. 

- Additional reporting from PA.