US intelligence director warns of spoof emails seeking to intimidate voters

FBI and intelligence leaders reassured voters and gave an alert on foreign efforts related to the upcoming election.Iran and Russia have obtained some voting registration information and could try to sow chaos among voters, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said during a news conference.“Do not allow these efforts to have their intended effect,” he said, warning that spoof emails have already been sent by Iran to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Donald Trump. The announcement at a rare news conference just two weeks before the election underscored the concern within the U.S. government about efforts by foreign countries to spread false information meant to suppress voter turnout and undermine American confidence in the vote.Iran also created a video that Ratcliffe said falsely suggested that voters could cast fraudulent ballots from overseas.Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, denied Tehran had anything to do with the alleged voter intimidation.“Unlike the U.S., Iran does not interfere in other country’s elections,” Miryousefi wrote on Twitter. “The world has been witnessing U.S.’ own desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections at the highest level.”Ratcliffe, who was nominated to the position by Trump, said officials haven’t seen the same actions from Russia but they are aware they’ve obtained some voter information — just as they did in 2016.He said these actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries. He stressed our election systems are resilient and voters can be confident their votes are secure.Ratcliffe and FBI Director Chris Wray said the U.S. will impose costs on any foreign countries interfering in the 2020 U.S. election. “You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray said. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”The news conference was held as Democratic voters in at least four battleground states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, have received threatening emails in the last 24 hours, falsely purporting to be from the far-right group Proud Boys, that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for President Donald Trump.The voter-intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.

FBI and intelligence leaders reassured voters and gave an alert on foreign efforts related to the upcoming election.

Iran and Russia have obtained some voting registration information and could try to sow chaos among voters, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said during a news conference.

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“Do not allow these efforts to have their intended effect,” he said, warning that spoof emails have already been sent by Iran to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Donald Trump.

The announcement at a rare news conference just two weeks before the election underscored the concern within the U.S. government about efforts by foreign countries to spread false information meant to suppress voter turnout and undermine American confidence in the vote.

Iran also created a video that Ratcliffe said falsely suggested that voters could cast fraudulent ballots from overseas.

Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, denied Tehran had anything to do with the alleged voter intimidation.

“Unlike the U.S., Iran does not interfere in other country’s elections,” Miryousefi wrote on Twitter. “The world has been witnessing U.S.’ own desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections at the highest level.”

Ratcliffe, who was nominated to the position by Trump, said officials haven’t seen the same actions from Russia but they are aware they’ve obtained some voter information — just as they did in 2016.

He said these actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries. He stressed our election systems are resilient and voters can be confident their votes are secure.

Ratcliffe and FBI Director Chris Wray said the U.S. will impose costs on any foreign countries interfering in the 2020 U.S. election.

“You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray said. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”

The news conference was held as Democratic voters in at least four battleground states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, have received threatening emails in the last 24 hours, falsely purporting to be from the far-right group Proud Boys, that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for President Donald Trump.

The voter-intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.

Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.