False Accounts Target the Anti-Corruption Movement in Jerusalem

18 February 2021

At least five leaders of Israel’s anti-corruption protests against the current Israeli government have been contacted by Twitter accounts from people claiming to be leaders of the American Jewish community. These fake profiles have presented themselves as eager to donate money to the campaign when really they were “phishing,” that is seeking to harvest information about the protest leaders. The accounts used names of real people such as Max L. Kleinman former CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest.

Israeli activists reported the scheme to FakeReporter.net, an initiative of NIF grantees Mehazkim, Active Info, and Citizens’ HQ, which investigates fake accounts and posts on social media. Haaretz reports that some of the American individuals whose names were used have complained to the FBI.

FakeReporter.net said, “The fake profiles reached out to protest leaders in broken English offering to donate money to the anti-corruption campaign. They asked activists, for example, ‘who are the leaders of the various organizations?’ We at FakeReporter.net contacted the real people in the US on whose behalf the fake accounts had been opened, and they confirmed that these were not their accounts. We understood that this was a calculated attempt to gather information about the protest and protest leaders.”

One Balfour protestor, Uri Breitman, said that he was contacted by somebody who claimed to be Michael A. Morris from Atlanta. But his English was full of obvious errors, and he pressed Breitman on whether he knew the names and contact details of protest leaders. Another protester was asked for the names of leaders of anti-corruption activist groups like Crime Minister, the Black Flags and Kumei Israel, pro-democracy and anti-corruption organizations that take part in the so-called Balfour Protests outside the Prime Minister’s residence.