U.S. offers $10 million for info on Iranians indicted for disinformation over 2020 U.S. election

The U.S. Department of State is offering a $10 million reward for information about the activities of two Iranian nationals charged for cyber activity intended to “intimidate and influence” American voters during the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign.

An indictment unsealed today by the Department of Justice alleges that between September and November 2020, 24-year old Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and 27-year old Sajjad Kashian obtained information of more than 100,000 U.S. voters and used it “sow discord among Americans.”

The two suspects tried to compromise close to a dozen state voter websites and found a misconfigured computer that gave them access to the details of voters in one state.

They used the data to distribute false information over Facebook and email about the Democratic Party planning to interfere with the election by exploiting vulnerabilities in voter registration websites and modifying mail-in ballots.

“The False Election Messages were accompanied by a video (the “False Election Video”) carrying the Proud Boys logo, which purported, via simulated intrusions and the use of State-1 voter data, to depict an individual hacking into state voter websites and using stolen voter information to create fraudulent absentee ballots through the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) for military and overseas voters” – the U.S. Department of Justice

In October, Kazemi and Kashian sent out emails claiming to be from the Proud Boys threatening thousands of registered voters with physical injuries unless they voted for Donald Trump.

Spoofed Proud Boys email from Iranian actors
Spoofed Proud Boys email (Proofpoint)

The DoJ says that the two suspects “are experienced Iran-based computer hackers.” They worked as contractors for a company (now known as Emennet Pasargad) that provided cybersecurity services for the Iranian government.

Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian

For their activity, Kazemi and Kashian received the following charges:

  • one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, intimidate voters, and transmit interstate threats (Kazemi and Kashian)
  • one count of voter intimidation (Kazemi and Kashian)
  • one count of transmission of interstate threats (Kazemi and Kashian)
  • one count of unauthorized computer intrusion (Kazemi)
  • one count of computer fraud (Kazemi)

Along with the formulated charges, the Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed sanctions against Kazemi and Kashian, and four other Iranian nationals, part of the Emennet Pasargad leadership.

Furthermore, the Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program is offering a huge reward for details about the activities of Kazemi and Kashian: up to $10 million each.



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