Shin Bet Uncovers Iranian Attempts to Lure Israeli Businessmen
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) uncovered operations by Iranian intelligence to lure Israeli businessmen and academics abroad in order to kidnap or harm them and to gather intelligence.
The Iranian operatives stole the identities of foreign and Israeli academics, journalists, reserve officers, businessmen, and philanthropists and used the stolen identities and relevant cover stories in order to gather intelligence about Israelis and to lure them to locations abroad in order to kidnap or harm them.
The operatives would send an email from an address that was similar to the authentic address used by the person whose identity had been stolen, changing just a letter or symbol, before asking the target to switch to a WhatsApp conversation. The operatives used real information that could be verified by a check on the Internet.
The Israelis who were contacted did not respond and alerted security forces about the attempts.
In one case, an operative disguising himself as Swiss researcher Prof. Oliver Thränert, sent an invitation to an academic conference in Europe from the email address Oliver.firstname.lastname@example.org, which is similar to Thränert’s real email.
The operative pretending to be Thränert contacted a number of Israeli citizens and sent them files and links that were said to be related to the conference. The citizens who were contacted were suspicious and contacted the real Oliver Thränert, who denied the existence of the conference and expressed concern that his email had been hacked.
The Shin Bet said that a number of Israelis were already on the verge of traveling abroad in order to attend the fake “conference” and the exposure of the Iranian operations prevented this.
The security agency called on Israelis to be cautious of suspicious emails that come from addresses that are similar to the authentic address and are accompanied by a request to switch to WhatsApp on an unfamiliar phone number. If the person avoids a video call or sharing a face photo, that’s another red flag.
Unusual invitations to unique or prestigious conferences accompanied by a showering of praise about the Israeli target in a way that does not necessarily match reality is another red flag, according to the Shin Bet.
The agency warned against sharing personal details or responding in any other way, and asked that anyone who receives such an email contact security officials. (JPost/ VFI News)
“Lord, we ask that you protect your people from deception, expose the evildoers and alert those who are contacted by them.”