Paul Frampton, 68, a respected British scientist has been sentenced to five years in prison after being duped by elements of organized crime on-line, thinking he was communicating with former Miss Bikini World Denise Milani, a Czech-born married model half his age who was totally unaware of the scam and had never had contact with Frampton, online or otherwise.
In point of fact, criminals used the “honey-trap” technique to “mouse-trap” the learned Oxford-educated physicist.
Frampton was arrested in January 2012, after being detained at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, as he attempted to board a plane to Perú with two kilos of cocaine in his luggage.
COMMENT. The scheme used by drug traffickers is one that has been used effectively by spies of all sorts, blackmailers and defrauders for decades. Sadly, Frampton emailed for months to a person he thought was Milani, not realizing she knew nothing of what was transpiring.
Frampton, who is divorced, had been teaching physics at the University of North Carolina for roughly 30 years, and was conned into traveling to La Paz [Bolivia], thinking that he was going to actually meet Ms. Milani when he arrived there.
The type of scheme that victimized Frampton and thousands of others around the world is effective, largely because rarely is someone such as the professor likely to contact the British Foreign Office for advice.
Worse, without ever meeting Milani, Frampton agreed to meet a middle-aged man in a La Paz hotel who gave him Ms. Milani’s suitcase and asked him to take it to her in Buenos Aires. This intrigue alone should have convinced Frampton that something very strange was amiss.
The following day, Frampton flew to Buenos Aires where he was then instructed to fly to Brussels where he believed he would finally meet Milani. By now, Frampton surely would have sensed that something very suspicious was underway.
After waiting 36 hours at the airport for “Milani” to send Frampton an electronic ticket, the well-educated professor finally became suspicious and decided alternatively to fly back to the US via Perú, at which point the drugs in the suitcase that Frampton had been given were seized in Buenos Aires during bag screening.
Professor Frampton now faces five years in prison in a foreign country and his life destroyed by a felony conviction. As I have said so many times in the past, foreign travel is fraught with temptations and risks that never should be entered into without verification.