The Islamist terrorist organization ISIS allegedly operated the Covid-19 scam site FaceMaskCenter.com, which, according to the US Department of Justice, was part of a fundraising program. The website has since been taken offline.
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As first Wired on their website reported, the Justice Department had seized hundreds of Bitcoin and Ethereum accounts and several million US dollars, and shut down four websites of well-known extremist groups, some operated by ISIS, the al-Qassam Brigades and Al Qaeda. According to the public prosecutor’s office, the seized cryptocurrency is “the largest ever seizure of cryptocurrency by the government in connection with terrorism”.
According to court files, the actions of a suspected ISIS agent who allegedly operated a fraud website for personal protective equipment from Covid-19: FaceMaskCenter.com are particularly bold.
Everyone is a capitalist
According to security researchers, ISIS involvement in the profiteering with fear of Covid-19 does not come as a surprise. Wired quotes Mark Turnage, managing director of DarkOwl, a security company that has been pursuing Covid-19 scams for months: “We saw a huge amount of illegal personal protective equipment materials sold and never delivered,” he says. “That ISIS decided to get into this business is not surprising. Everyone is a capitalist. They are also taking advantage of the pandemic.”
A civil lawsuit describes how a confidential source allegedly used an ISIS intermediary, alias Murat Cakar, to run the website and also had four Facebook accounts promoting it. Cakar is also believed to be responsible for managing other ISIS hacking operations.
Junk or scam
The FaceMaskCenter.com website advertised N95 face masks approved and common in the US, as well as a wide range of other protective equipment. Now the website does not sell anything anymore, only a confiscation notice can be seen.
It is not clear whether the operators simply did not deliver any goods or possibly only inferior. The latter can be concluded from the civil suit: It reveals that the masks offered on the website came from a Turkish company and allegedly did not meet FDA standards. Oddly enough, when a US customer contacted FaceMaskCenter, a Syrian resident in Turkey responded with an offer for the 100,000 mouth and nose guards, which at the time seemed absurdly high due to the general shortage of masks. Also strange: the operators stated on their website that they had existed since 1996. In fact, the domain was only registered in February 2020.