Nudes sent to top Westminster figures in ‘honey trap’ sting ‘attempt’

Several people based in or around Westminster have been sent dodgy messages, with some also receiving nudes (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

A number of top figures in Westminster have been sent nudes and unsolicited salacious messages in a suspected ‘honey trap’ attempt.

At least a dozen people, including a minister in Rishi Sunak’s government and a senior Labour MP, have received the flirty missives so far.

Political news website Politico reported that the targets – who also include journalists, staffers, an ex-MP and a Tory backbencher – were sent texts from two mysterious numbers calling themselves Abi, Charlie or Charlotte.

The site said four cybersecurity experts had confirmed the messages show the hallmarks of a deliberate ‘spear phishing’ attack.

Each of the 12 recipients reported getting near-identical texts which led to flirtations and offers to hook up – some of which contained startling details about their private lives.

According to Politico, the former MP – who is gay – was told by the user calling themselves ‘Charlie’: ‘I’m single again so making the most of the gays in Westminster.’

They then added: ‘Mmm you do look good.’

The ex-MP blocked the number after he was sent an explicit photograph the following day.

What is ‘spear phishing’?

First of all, ‘phishing’ is the name given to a cyberattack which takes the form of emails, texts or phone calls to trick people into sharing sensitive information.

Just as spear fishing is a more direct, targeted method of fishing, ‘spear phishing’ is the name given to phishing that is aimed at a specific person or group.

The attacks are particularly effective because they are highly personalised and based on research.

This allows the attacker to convince the target they have met in real life – or even assume the identity of someone they already know.

A Labour Party staff member who reciprocated when he was sent naked pictures by ‘Charlotte’ told the site: ‘I’ve been pretty shook up, anxious and worried about what could happen, and just embarrassed that I fell for it.’

The attackers appeared to know the names of their targets’ partners and bosses, as well as previous campaigns they had worked on and details of their relationship break-ups.

A different staffer for Labour told the Mail Online: ‘It’s pretty scary to think that there are sinister actors targeting people working in Parliament.

‘It felt like someone with a good knowledge of British politics. They knew all the lingo. I don’t have a very big online profile and they seemed to know a lot about me.’

Alicia Kearns has warned a ‘hostile state’ may be responsible (Picture: Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Speaking to the Mail, Tory chair of the foreign affairs committee Alicia Kearns said: ‘There is almost certainly a foreign hostile state behind this.

‘It’s really clever to go for staff because they’re not as aware and aren’t used to these kinds of advances.

‘But they have a huge ability to influence their bosses, access their emails and they could do a lot of damage if they have been entrapped.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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