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FBI used 'provocative' photos of female staffers as bait in sex trafficking stings, report finds

An unidentified FBI agent reportedly used photos of female staffers in undercover sex trafficking operations without their written consent or supervisors' approval, according to a memo released by the Office of the Inspector General. 

Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the FBI his office was concerned such a "largely unsupervised" practice would place the women — who were not certified for undercover work — "in danger of becoming victims," per the memo and USA Today. Those in the photos were posing as "minor children or sex workers," although they were reportedly clothed with blurred-out faces, reports Reuters.

The special agent, who said he was "fishing" on social media sites, did not record on which websites he posted the images, reports Insider. The FBI had no way of locating said images, and was unsure as to how many times they may have been "downloaded, copied, or further disseminated," Horowitz' office found. In one such instance, per the memo, the special agent reportedly asked a support staffer to send "provocative pictures of herself" for undercover operations.

"The [agent] did not inform the support staff employees' supervisors that the employees were involved in [undercover] operations," says the memo, "and the [agent] advised the support staff employees who provided photographs to not tell anyone, including their supervisors."

The OIG "urged" the FBI to establish guidelines "concerning use of photos of non-certified undercover staff in undercover operations." In response, the FBI accepted the OIG's recommendations, and said it will "evaluate existing policy and determine which policies require adjustment," per Reuters.