The Shin Bet security service said Monday it had uncovered an Iranian plot to recruit Israelis to gather intelligence and commit terror attacks using fake WhatsApp and Facebook accounts.
According to the agency, the operation – similar to what it said was a recurring method used by Iranian intelligence organizations – was discovered at its very early stages.
A fake Facebook profile under the name Sara Puppi, who was depicted as a young Jewish woman with businesses in Israel, contacted Israelis, the Shin Bet said in a statement.
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“This fake profile accumulated thousands of friends in a short amount of time, mostly from Israel. After the initial contact was made on Facebook, communication moved over to WhatsApp,” the statement said.
The Shin Bet said its agents chatted with the Iranian operator, who asked them – apparently without knowing they are intelligence officers – to gather information on Israeli officials.
He also asked his interlocutors whether they would be willing to harm these Israelis in return for thousands of dollars, which would be sent via bitcoin. “Sometimes he even used emotional and romantic manipulation,” the Shin Bet said.