Russia and Iranians woke up on Friday morning to strange spam text messages that encouraged them to report any evidence of interference in the United States election to the US State Department — and a huge financial incentive to do so. Offered.
“The United States pays up to $ 10 million for any information about foreign interference in American elections,” messages read in Russian and Persian.
Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo announced the generous reward the day before, citing the efforts of “Russia and other malicious actors”. The State Department said the Reward for Justice program would offer a $ 10 million reward to identify those attempting to disrupt the US election at the behest of a foreign government. In the announcement, the department encouraged recipients to contact the nearest US embassy or consulate.
A link to some Russian messages leads to the Russian version of the Rewards for Justice verified Twitter account, according to the Russian outlet Rouja. The messages reportedly appeared scattered across a vast country in cities such as Saratov, Krasnodar, Ulyanovsk, Chelyabinsk, Perm, Yekaterinburg and Tyumen.
Many Russians took to social media to share screenshots of the astonishing text messages, with some likening the offer to a “reward for treason”.
Timofei Zukov, a legalist from Yekaterinburg, posted a screenshot of a message that clearly showed that it was sent using a service commonly known to distribute spam.
Iranians seemed equally confused by the messages.
A software developer in Tehran told Reuters that he felt the message was “some kind of cyber attack.”
A State Department spokesman appeared in a statement to confirm the massive text messaging strategy: “The US Department of States Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program offers a reward through SMS messages and various communication tools and techniques Has been doing. Our SMS messages refer to verified official awards for judicial social media accounts, which are available in multiple languages. ”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova ridiculed the State Department’s “chain letters” in a Facebook post where she accused the US intelligence services of “intruding into our lives”. “What is it, if not a true hybrid attack?” He wrote, accusing US officials of targeting the Russian population to prove the Kremlin’s arbitration.
As the State Department’s massive text messaging campaign comes, Democratic lawmakers pushed for more information about specific foreign plans to focus on in the upcoming elections. The Russian attempted to intervene in the shadow of the 2016 election over a fight between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and Iran did, in part, a similar incursion.
While William Ivanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, last month issued a severe warning about China, Iran and Russia, stating that the 2020 election was “a direct threat to our democracy”, plotting the election. Democrats described Ivina as a statement on foreign threats as “so generally almost pointless.”
Democrats have expressed particular concern about a smear campaign against Joe Biden, who was teased by pro-Russian politicians along with Rudy Giuliani. He fears that the Kremlin-friendly campaign is being fed to Senate Homeland Security chairman Ron Johnson as part of the former Vice President’s investigation and his behavior in Ukraine – launched after much panic from Trump and his allies An investigation conducted, and fully embraced by many Republicans, Biden gained traction in the elections.