Tag: Seizes

US seizes Iranian government domains masked as legitimate news outlets

US law enforcement has seized 92 domains used to spread propaganda and fake news by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 

The Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Wednesday that the IRGC has used the domains to “unlawfully engage in a global disinformation campaign.”

Four of the domains were used to create news outlets that appeared legitimate but the flow of ‘news’ articles and contents hosted by the websites were controlled by the IRGC. 

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In particular, US audiences were targeted with Iranian propaganda “to influence United States domestic and foreign policy in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),” the DoJ claims.

Google tipped off US law enforcement to the global campaign, and then with the help of the tech giant, Twitter, Facebook, and the FBI, 92 domains were confiscated on October 7.

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Under the US International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and active sanctions that prevent the unauthorized export of goods and services between Iran and the US, a warrant was issued for the seizure of the illegal domains. 

US prosecutors say the fake news outlets were closed under legislation outlined by FARA, which requires foreign entities to transparently disclose the source of information and people when content attempts to “influence US public opinion, policy, and law.” 

The news websites targeted the US — newsstand7.com, usjournal.net, usjournal.us, and twtoday.net — have now been seized and display an FBI notice. 

One of the domains, newsstand7.com, used the slogan “Awareness Made America Great” and published articles relating to US President Trump, the Black Lives Matter movement, US unemployment, COVID-19, and police brutality, among other topics. 

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“These domains targeted a United States audience without proper registration pursuant to FARA and without notifying the American public with a conspicuous notice that the content of the domains was being published on behalf of the IRGC and the Government of Iran,” the DoJ commented. 

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The other 88 domains targeted audiences in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. These domains, too, masqueraded as news outlets and media organizations. 

“We will continue to use all of our tools to stop the Iranian Government from misusing US companies and social media to spread propaganda covertly, to attempt to influence the American public secretly, and to sow discord,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers.  “Fake news organizations have become a new outlet for disinformation spread by authoritarian countries as they continue to try to undermine our democracy.”    

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The IRGC has been branded as a foreign terrorist organization by the US government. 

The state-sponsored hacking group has been previously connected to cyberattacks against US aerospace, industrial, and business entities, as well as universities, in information theft and cyberespionage campaigns. In 2018, Iran was cited as a “growing threat” in the cybersecurity landscape by Accenture.

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U.K. Seizes Millions in Cash, Knightsbridge Properties in First Use of Dirty Money Law

(Bloomberg) — The U.K. reached a 9.8 million pound ($12.7 million) settlement in its first successful use of a controversial power designed to crack down on dirty money.



a sign on the side of a building: LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 07: A general view of The National Crime Agency building in Westminster on October 7, 2013 in London, England. The NCA replaces SOCA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which was formed in 2006. Dubbed "the British FBI", the NCA will be tasked with tackling the most serious of crimes in the UK and replaces a number of existing bodies. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


© Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 07: A general view of The National Crime Agency building in Westminster on October 7, 2013 in London, England. The NCA replaces SOCA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which was formed in 2006. Dubbed “the British FBI”, the NCA will be tasked with tackling the most serious of crimes in the UK and replaces a number of existing bodies. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The National Crime Agency settled a so-called Unexplained Wealth Order with Mansoor “Manni” Mahmood Hussain, a Leeds businessman, the agency said Wednesday in a statement. The 40-year-old handed over more than 45 properties in London, Leeds and Cheshire, four parcels of land, and nearly 600,000 pounds in cash. The London properties include two apartments in the tony Knightsbridge neighborhood.

“This case is a milestone, demonstrating the power of Unexplained Wealth Orders, with significant implications for how we pursue illicit finance in the U.K,” Graeme Biggar, the NCA’s director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, said in a statement.

Hussain didn’t respond to several messages left with his business. The NCA accused him of using blackmail, threats of violence and ties to criminals to build his property portfolio.

The British government introduced UWOs two years ago to help stop a growing problem of criminals and dictators using the country to hide their wealth. The civil litigation tool forces people with assets of more than 50,000 pounds to prove their funds come from legitimate sources. Failure to comply with the order can allow a court to freeze the assets.

In July, a parliamentary report on Russian involvement in British politics criticized the new power. Such politically exposed persons — people who might benefit from proximity to friends and relatives in high places — can afford to fight against efforts to strip their ill-gotten assets, the lawmakers said.

While the orders appear to provide the NCA “with more clout and greater powers, the reality is that it is highly probable that the oligarchy will have the financial means to ensure their lawyers — a key group of professional enablers — find ways to circumvent this legislation,” the report said.

Earlier this year, the NCA was dealt a setback after the family of Kazakhstan’s former president overturned a freeze on the family’s 80 million-pound property portfolio. The agency has now settled the case for an undisclosed amount.

“We are just feeling our way and testing this legislation” and setbacks are “bound to happen occasionally,” Biggar told journalists.

“We will lose sometimes and there will be a cost to that but we intend to lose as rarely as possible,” he said. “We’re not going to be discouraged by the amount of money involved.”

Jonah Anderson, white collar crime lawyer at White & Case, says the breakthrough is good news after the

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