Avigdor Liberman speaks at a press conference, October 22, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jerusalem Post reporters were targeted in an elaborate online scam in an apparent attempt to spread rumors that Avigdor Liberman, who resigned as defense minister Wednesday, is a Russian agent.
At least two reporters were sent a link to a website disguised as the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, purporting to report on comments by ex-Mossad chief Tamir Pardo in which he accuses Liberman of being a Russian spy.
Pardo emphatically denied making the statements, though he did speak at Harvard last week.
The link is to a net address, although the Belfer Center’s real web address is www.belfercenter.org. The site was created on November 12 and updated on November 14. It is hosted by namecheap, an online domain name registration service.
In addition, the Twitter account @binamelamed that sent the link appeared to be fake, with the two profile pictures appearing to show different people. The account was created in 2010, but only began tweeting about two weeks ago. Other than sharing the link, the account only retweeted Haaretz
and Jerusalem Post
The account’s 358 twitter followers are mostly Arabic and Turkish accounts.
It’s registered to a phone number ending in 72, and what is likely to be a Gmail e-mail account, beginning with the letter M.
The fake page follows a pattern almost identical to another false story spread in October, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair Netanyahu visited the United Arab Emirates and plans to invest there. It appeared on a fake version of the website European Coatings, with an address that was off by one letter.
Reporters and editors at Times of Israel, Haaretz and RT shared the article as though it were real.
Programmer Ran Bar-Zik found that the article and the website were fake, and tracked down a Twitter account that was sending it to reporters called Mazal Shapiro. The e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org – a Gmail address beginning with an M, like Bina Melamed’s – was registered to a phone number that was likely to be Pakistani.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>