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China Sets Honey Traps to Spy on UK

Sticky Situations: Chinese Spies Setting Honey Traps in Britain

The UK's secret intelligence service, MI5, is warning British banks, businesses, and financial institutions to beware of Chinese honey traps, the espionage practice of tricking a person with seduction. It's hard enough to believe espionage exists, but the idea that spies actually seduce people and have actual romances sounds like fiction.

Yet it definitely still happens, whether it's as simple as a flirtation or as drawn out as a relationship. Just two years ago a Gordon Brown aide had his BlackBerry stolen by a Chinese woman who hit on him in a Shanghai hotel disco. The UK is now warning, though, that Chinese agents are pursuing "long-term relationships."

Past honey traps have not only been used to wine and dine information out of people, but also to blackmail with the threat of revealing the relationship, particularly with same-sex affairs. But one of the most organized and widespread honey-trap operations used straight-up seduction.

The head of East Germany's security service staffed an entire department with smart, attractive officers he called "Romeo spies." They were used to target successful single women in West Germany — the type who would obviously fall for it — and beguile secrets out of them. It didn't go quite as planned, though. West Germany's government quickly learned to identify Romeo spies by their unfashionable haircuts.

Who knew haircuts had such a prominent place in history!

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