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Israel: Iran used fake social media accounts to ‘lure, abduct’ our citizens abroad

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Israeli spy agencies claimed Iran used fake social media accounts to lure citizens abroad to “harm or abduct them,” according to Israel's domestic security agency Shin Bet and the international intelligence service Mossad's report published on Monday.

"Their method is based on using fake profiles on social media and to get in contact with Israelis who have international business ties and frequently travel abroad," a joint statement said.

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The statement said the fake profiles were typically of fictious women who allege they are in the tourism and business industries.

The Israeli spy agencies claim “Iranian intelligence operatives lure” Israeli citizens on “romantic and commercial pretexts.”

The statement said this type of activity was carried out in countries Israel has ties with including: “Arab countries, Turkey, GCC countries, and countries in the Caucasus, Africa and Europe.”

Israel's National Security Agency advised tourists last month against travel to the UAE, Bahrain, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and the Kurdish region of Iraq, citing the threat of Iran attacking Israelis overseas.

"This is a well-known action pattern similar to the one carried out by Iran in the past against regime opponents in Europe," the Shin Bet said. "Now, Iran is acting similarly against Israeli citizens seeking to develop legitimate business ties abroad in the countries mentioned."

An Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP there was “at least one case of a citizen who left for a foreign country in order to conduct a meeting” after being in touch with a suspicious social media account.

“The person was warned by (Israeli) intelligence and returned (home),” the official said.

Tensions between Iran and Israel have risen over recent weeks, with the arch-enemies exchanging attacks on commercial sea vessels, and Tehran accusing Tel Aviv of attacking its nuclear facility Natanz.

The hostilities come as the US and Iran hold indirect talks to revive the abandoned 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Israel strongly opposes.

- With AFP

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