ISIS is not making headline news the way they once did. The Muslim terrorist groups’ violent activities, which involved brutal beheadings, have come to a halt. Thanks to the Trump administration, their presence on the battlefields they once occupied is rarely to never seen.
But please do not be fooled by their seeming invisibility. They have merely hopped on a different route where getting blown to bits by American forces is far less of a possibility.
Behind the scenes where their presence is harder to detect, they have taken to the internet. These black cloth draped demons from hell pound away on keyboards from dark dingy basements as they blast out misinformation on social media platforms under fictitious names.
Besides their goal of creating political discourse, there is one more thing they are interested in, and this would be money. They need cash to fund their ruthless operations and they will do anything within their power to get it.
ISIS has taken full advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by turning it into a profit machine for themselves. At a time when PPE equipment is in short supply and millions are scrambling to stay safe, they pounced with glee at an opportunity that fell right into their laps.
FaceMaskCenter.com appeared to be a harmless site where worried and concerned citizens could find all of the personal protective equipment they needed to keep them and their families safe from harm. But according to the Department of Justice, the site was not safe at all. It was a scam operation being perpetrated by ISIS.
This was not the only phony website the group was running. The DOJ discovered four different sites as they seized millions of dollars and hundreds of bitcoin and ethereum account’s the group was using to fund terrorist activities worldwide.
FaceMaskCenter.com, however, was by far the most prominent, and the biggest moneymaker of them all, and it was being run by one lone ISIS agent.
The ISIS websites are only the tip of the iceberg. According to Mark Turnage, CEO of an organization called DarkOwl whose goal it is to seek out and shut down these fraudulent COVID-19 accounts said ISIS is not the only guilty party. The issue has become widespread.
“We’ve seen a massive volume of illegitimate materials like PPE being sold and never delivered. The fact that ISIS decided to get into this business too isn’t really surprising. Everyone’s a capitalist. They’re leveraging the pandemic too.”
The ISIS agent running FaceMaskCenter.com used the alias of Murat Cakar. He was also running four Facebook accounts to help advertise the products he didn’t actually have.
The site was offering FDA-approved N-95 masks which are the most difficult to find. In addition, it offered Tyvek suits, thermometers, gloves, goggles, and a complete suite of PPE equipment, which of course, the unsuspecting victims never received.
The hoards of dollars that rolled in were then handed over to an American woman by the name of Zoobia Shahnaz who laundered the ISIS funds by converting them to bitcoin.
The site was advertised as “the original online personal protective equipment supplier and was the first of its kind.” Since the DOJ, US Treasury, and Department of Homeland Security shut it down, the site now shows a seizure notice.
The website claimed the company had been in business since 1996 and was run by “sanitary experts,” but in actuality, the domain was registered in 2020. Turnage said, “You can usually test just from the date of the creation of the domain whether this is a legitimate supplier versus someone who is just trying to capitalize on the pandemic.”
Unknowingly, the innocent people who merely thought they were ordering PPE, contributed to extremism and terrorist activity without their knowledge. Homeland Security indicated that other terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, have similar operations which are now under investigation.
It’s extremely difficult to differentiate a scam operation from a legitimate one, but if any of our readers have the slightest inkling, or see what appears to be a red flag, hang on to your hard-earned cash and immediately contact the authorities.