In espionage, a honeypot or honeytrap is a trap set to capture, kill or compromise an enemy agent using sex as the lure.
There are many ways in which the technique can be used to gain advantage. If the target is genuinely attached to the person who seduces them, information can be obtained over a long period — the target may trust his or her lover enough to reveal secrets, or may even change their allegience due to their emotional attachment. Even if the target does not deliberately give information to their lover, the lover may accidentally be given opportunities to obtain it themselves. A long-term relationship is not necessarily the goal, however — the technique can also be used to blackmail those who later regret their actions. Incriminating photographs can be an effective tool of coercion, for example. Sometimes, the technique is nothing more than a means of getting the target to lower their guard so that they may be captured or killed, or getting them to go to a location where this is more easily accomplished.
The most common employment of this technique is by women, either female intelligence agents or (if the purpose is simply to obtain material for blackmail) prostitutes. Some intelligence agencies, particularly in the Soviet bloc, are alleged to have specially cultivated agents for this purpose. Not all traps are carried out by women, however — sometimes, women are ensnared by male agents, and sometimes, same-sex traps are used. (The latter were particularly effective during times, or in countries, where homosexuality was taboo, and the very fact that an agent was homosexual was material suitable for blackmail). Quite often, alcohol is involved, as any inhibitions the target has, will be reduced.
* Clayton J. Lonetree, an embassy guard in Moscow, was entrapped by a female Soviet officer in 1987. He was then blackmailed into handing over documents when he was assigned to Vienna.
* Roy Rhodes, a US Army NCO serving at the US embassy in Moscow, had a one-night stand (or was made to believe he had) with a Soviet agent while drunk. He was later told the agent was pregnant, and that unless he co-operated with the Soviet authorities, this would be revealed to his wife.
* Irvin Scarbeck, a US diplomat, was entrapped by a female Polish officer in 1961, and photographed in a compromising position. He was blackmailed into providing secrets.
* Sharon Scranage, a CIA employee described by one source as "shy, naive, country girl", was allegedly seduced by Ghanaian intelligence agent Michael Soussoudis. She later gave him information on CIA operations in Ghana, which was later shared with Soviet-bloc countries.
* James J. Smith and William Cleveland, two FBI officers, are alleged to have been seduced by Katrina Leung in order to obtain information.
* Mordechai Vanunu, who had disclosed Israeli nuclear secrets, began an affair with an American Mossad agent, Cheryl Bentov, operating under the name "Cindy" and masquerading as an American tourist, on September 30, 1986. She persuaded him to fly to Rome, Italy with her on a holiday. Once in Rome, Mossad agents drugged him and smuggled him to Israel on a freighter.
* John Vassall, a British civil servant who was guided by the KGB into having sex with multiple male partners while drunk. The KGB then used photographs of this to blackmail Vassall into providing them with secret information.
* Bernard Boursicot, a French diplomat was entrapped by Shi Pei Pu, who was working for the Chinsese government. She was a man pretending to be a woman, and told him he was carrying his child. The situation was fictionalized into the play M. Butterfly.