2:08 PM PDT, August 3, 2021
FBI agents used “provocative pictures” of their younger female employees in order to “entice sexual predators,” according to a new report by the Justice Department’s watchdog agency. The office staff that had been posed to look like they were children or sex workers were not certified to work undercover or as “online covert employees,” according to the findings.
An investigation was launched after an FBI special agent allegedly asked a female coworker, described in the report as an FBI support staff employee, to provide “provocative pictures of herself” for an undercover operation. The special agent and office staff had allegedly been in an inappropriate relationship, according to reports.
Investigators later found that additional special agents had engaged in using unauthorized photos as well, the report stated.
While the faces of the photographed women were blurred and their bodies were clothed, the FBI special agent at the center of the investigation “did not document which employees were used, obtain written consent from the employees, document the websites on which the photographs were posted, or document when the photographs were posted,” the Justice Department inspector general’s office said in the report issued Monday.
The FBI special agent did not get permission from the staff’s supervisors and had explicitly told the women not to tell anyone about the photographs, the report said.
The report continued to say the unnamed special agent had not documented what social media sites he used in relation with the photos and did not document which photos he used, meaning that the photos could still be available to be downloaded and shared, and could open the employees up to becoming victims themselves.
While the report clarified that the FBI does not have a specific policy regarding the incident, the policy does state that using unauthorized agents in undercover operations should not be done “unless it is absolutely necessary” and “within the scope of consent.”
The report is also now recommending that an official policy related to using photographs of employees not certified to work undercover in online undercover operations, and that that policy includes further guidelines, documentation, written consent and notifications regarding when those photographs are used.
A top FBI official responded to the report, saying the bureau “fully accepts” the recommendation, according to CNN.