US sanctions Pak firm, six nationals for meddling in 2020 elections

By: News Desk      Published: 10:56 AM, 17 Apr, 2021
US sanctions Pak firm, six nationals for meddling in 2020 elections
Representative image.

The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on a Pakistan-based company and six individuals for acting on behalf of the Russian network that attempted to meddle in the 2020 United States presidential election.

Pakistan-based Second Eye Solution (SES), also known as Forwarderz, is an organisation that specializes in creating and selling fraudulent identities and has assisted the IRA in concealing its identity to evade sanctions, according to the treasury department. The Internet Research Agency (IRA) here is a Russian troll farm that Office of Foreign Assets Control, (OFAC) previously designated for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Since at least 2012, SES engaged in a scheme to provide digital photographs of fake documents including passports, driver's licenses, bank statements, utility bills, and national identity documents. "SES markets these fake documents for use to verify online accounts including money service business accounts and social media website accounts. In 2017, the IRA purchased 15 fraudulent US driver licences images from SES. The purchased licenses were used as supporting documents for online social media accounts opened by the IRA," the department said.

"Pakistani Nationals Mohsin Raza, Mujtaba Raza, Syed Hasnain, Muhammad Hayat, Syed Raza, and Shahzad Ahmed are the owners and employees who were instrumental in processing payment for fraudulent identities. Fresh Air Farm House, Like Wise, and MK Softtech are four Pakistani front companies used to launder SES profits," the department added.

The statement further said that the fraudulent documents produced by SES are likely used at many online services to evade sanctions and anti-money laundering (AML) screening protocols beyond what OFAC has been able to identify.