Nude images utilized in WhatsApp ‘phishing’ assaults targeting UK MPs and staff

At least six men working in the UK Parliament received unsolicited messages — and the exchanges quickly turned sexual.

Politicians, officials and journalists working in the U.K. parliament are being targeted with alluring personalized messages and explicit images in what experts believe is a clear attempt to compromise them.

POLITICO has so far identified six men — four staffers, a political journalist and one senior Labour MP — who all received unsolicited WhatsApp messages from two suspicious mobile numbers between October 2023 and February this year. 

All the messages were sent by one of two mobile phone numbers, by users calling themselves alternatively “Abi” or “Charlie.”

A seventh man, a Tory MP, has reported similarly-worded messages to the police, according to one staffer who saw the messages; POLITICO has been unable to speak directly with the MP concerned.

Many of the messages contain striking similarities, including personalized references to the victims’ appearances at U.K. political events and drinking spots. In several cases explicit photos were also sent — and in at least one case, the victim reciprocated.

A dossier of evidence compiled by POLITICO has been reviewed by four cybersecurity experts who agreed people in key positions in parliament are being targeted with ill intent.

Dominik Wojtczak, head of the Cybersecurity Institute at the University of Liverpool, said he believed the messages were part of a “spear phishing attack” — a highly personalized form of “phishing,” meaning to gather compromising information on a victim.

“The purpose is most likely to simply obtain indecent images of the victims and then blackmail them,” Wojtczak said.

‘We had a little flirt’

The suspicious WhatsApp conversations reviewed by POLITICO tend to start the same way.

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