‘Vote Trump or we’ll get you’ email allegedly sent by Proud Boys to LGBT+ voter was a spoof from Iran, White House says
An email purporting to be from the Proud Boys threatening violence against voters if they did not vote for Donald Trump was sent from Iran, officials have said.
Department of Homeland Security officials told The Washington Post Wednesday (October 21) that the unknown Iranian sender used a recently vacated website address for the far-right group to send the threatening messages.
Voters in swing states Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona, as well as Alaska, reported receiving the deceptive emails Tuesday (October 20) which read: “Vote for Trump on election day or we will come after you.”
The emailer claimed they had access to public voting records, despite there being no way for any group to know which way individual voters cast their ballots.
The threat was sent from [email protected], but White House experts say it was pinged from an Estonian email server.
Department officials said that the email stemmed from hackers who used the domain name of the Proud Boys, recently dropped by its hosting company, to send the email.
One person who received the barbed email was a queer Floridian who alerted the state’s largest LGBT+ rights group, Equality Florida. The organisation promptly demanded a federal investigation.
Hackers used vacant Proud Boys website to send deceptive emails, says Homeland Department.
Known for their brash, often gun-toting members, Proud Boys is a white supremacist group that is anti-LGBT+.
Its supporters are Trump fanatics, many of whom were bolstered when the president told them to “stand back and stand by” during a presidential debate.
A screenshot of the now-debunked Proud Boys email shared by Equality Florida read: “We are in possession of all your information.
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“You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure.
“Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will copy. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you.”
It comes after Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a wing of the Department of Homeland Security, warned on Twitter of duplicity in the tense run-up to November 3.
This is what we mean by not falling for sensational and unverified claims. The last line of defense in election security is you – the American voter. So be prepared, be a smart consumer and sharer of information. Vote with confidence. #Protect2020
— Chris Krebs #Protect2020 (@CISAKrebs) October 21, 2020
He said the agency was “aware of threatening emails with misleading info about the secrecy of your vote”, stressing that: “Ballot secrecy is guaranteed by law in all states. “