Iran’s Fake Facebook Profile Used Romantic Manipulation to Gather Information About Israelis

Iran used a fake Facebook account to gather information about Israeli targets of interest to Iranian intelligence, Israel’s Homeland Security Service revealed on Monday.

According to the Shin Bet, the Iranian operator had created the profile under the name Sara Puppi, posing as a young Jewish girl with connections and business in Israel.

The account added thousands of friends in a very short time, and after speaking with targets on Facebook, the operator was forcing victims to switch to WhatsApp.

The Shin Bet managed to put an agent on the Facebook account posing as a follower.

The Iranian agent asked the Shin Bet agent to collect information on prominent Israelis and examined the agent’s willingness to harm them. The Iranian tried to pressure the Israeli agent into accepting his offer with emotional and romantic manipulation as well as handing over sums of money amounting to thousands of dollars.

Operator, who transferred funds to Shin Bet agent using Bitcoins, used business reasons as cover for assigned missions, such as revenge against those who owed him money or harm to personal adversaries and even a desire to harm LGBTQ+ people in general.

The missions’ targets also included business representatives and diplomats from Arab countries working in Israel.

The Shin Bet said the operator also tried to get its agent it thought was working for it to post signs against Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to damage Israel-Russia relations.

In February, Twitter and Facebook suspended pages and profiles of an Iranian disinformation unit which targeted nationalist and ultra-religious Jews in Israel.