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Iranian kidnap plot revealed – Intel agencies warn of strategy targeting Israeli civilians

From business meetings to romantic trysts, Iranian operatives using fake social media accounts to lure Israelis into dangerous situations

Examples of fictitious profiles used by Iranian operatives to lure Israelis (credit: Israeli Security Agency)

Israeli intelligence agencies warned citizens on Monday to be on high alert after uncovering an Iranian strategy to lure Israeli citizens into romantic or business meetings through fake social media accounts. 

The warning comes a day after it was revealed that Israel may have been behind the bombing of an Iranian nuclear facility

Military action is apparently not Iran’s only option for revenge after Sunday's bombing – which set back nuclear production by nine months – and for repeated attacks on Iranian targets in the region. Israeli intelligence agencies fear that citizens could be kidnapped – or worse – by meeting up with these fake romantic or businesses connections made via social media. 

“The Israeli Security Agency (ISA), in cooperation with the Mossad, has uncovered a method by which Iranian intelligence operatives attempted to lure Israelis to travel to various countries abroad in order to harm or abduct them,” the agencies said in a statement. “The method is based on the use of fictitious profiles on social networks and making contact with Israelis who have international commercial contacts and travel abroad.”

According to Israeli intelligence, Iranians have been using fake social media accounts, usually of provocatively dressed women, to lure Israelis into romantic trysts or business opportunities. The agencies said the Iranians behind the scam created fictitious profiles and made contact with Israeli civilians in an attempt to draw them into either romantic or business meetings.

“This pattern of action is well-known and is similar to that previously used by Iran against opponents of the regime in Europe, the agencies said. “Iran is currently using similar methods against Israeli citizens seeking to develop legitimate commercial ties in the aforementioned countries and regions.”

The operation is taking place from various countries where Iranians are active and where Israelis can travel including Turkey, Gulf states, the Caucus, Africa and Europe, the agencies said.

The Shin Bet and Mossad called on its citizens to be alert for queries made from unknown social media accounts, especially now that loosened travel restrictions have enabled Israelis to travel more freely.

Hamas operatives were caught running a similar operation in an attempt to hack the mobile phones of Israeli soldiers back in 2017. 

Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.

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