ISIS allegedly used Facebook to defraud people desperate for face masks

mid-March, as the first shelter-in-place order(opens in a new tab) Released and scrutinized by desperate public health officials across the US(opens in a new tab) For medical grade face masks, an online store by the name of offered hope. Despite the global shortage, it claims it has hundreds of thousands of FDA-approved N95 masks on hand, and would be happy to sell them to businesses in need.

Unfortunately, as the Justice Department alleges(opens in a new tab) on Thursday was actually a scam. Not only were the masks listed for sale not approved by the FDA, but according to the DOJ the entire operation was run by a known “ISIS facilitator” by the name of Murat Kakar. That’s right, ISIS came at the crack of the face mask.

The DOJ claims to be using a collection of four Facebook pages – several of which are still live at the time of writing – to “facilitate the scheme”.(opens in a new tab) That Kakar tried to sell one lakh subpar masks to an American customer. According to the DOJ, the unnamed customer wanted masks for nursing homes, hospitals and fire departments.

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One of the pages flagged by the DOJ is run by an alleged ISIS subsidiary.
Credits: Screenshot/Facebook

The DOJ alleges that in addition to using Facebook to take advantage of the pandemic, Kakar ran several ISIS hacking operations.

Before was taken down by US authorities, it presented itself as a long-standing business that had proudly provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) since 1996.

“Owned and operated by sanitary experts, we pride ourselves on our product knowledge and quality customer service, so you can have a safe and seamless online shopping experience,” reads a quote from the site reprinted in the Unseal complaint.(opens in a new tab), “We are now serving online with our range of face masks, gloves, goggles, protective suits and thermometers.”

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What looks like today
Credit: Screenshot /

This was not correct as the DOJ notes.

“The claim that the website was launched in 1996 is patently false,” the complaint said. “Publicly available website registration records revealed that the website was created on February 26, 2020, from an IP address in Turkey.”

See also: Coronavirus sparks black market filled with fake and stolen N95 face masks

We’ve reached out to Facebook to see if they will be removing the pages. Scammers using the site is definitely not a new phenomenon. What’s particularly troubling, however, is the news about ISIS allegedly using the social media giant in an effort to ship substandard PPE to US hospitals.

But hey, that’s just the price of adding people.

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