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A fresh air farmhouse stood out in new U.S. sanctions announced on Thursday on Russian cyber companies and officials acting on behalf of the Kremlin intelligence agency.
Its Facebook page reveals that it is a vacation rental, run by Mohsin Raza, 34, one of two of the founders of an internet faux ID company that assisted Russian operatives in getting a foothold in the United States.
Raza operated a faux identification mill, swarming spamming fraudulent consumers with fake drivers’ licenses, fake passports, and fake utility payments, according to a U.S. Treasury assertion and an indictment issued this week by federal authorities in New Jersey.
Who exactly are these people?
Raza is a Pakistani national and a digital counterfeiter, he confirmed his identity and implied that he used “simple Photoshop” to alter ID cards, bills, and so on.
According to him, he is a graphic designer, e-commerce partner, and cryptocurrency holder.
Among his clients was a former employee of the Internet Research Agency – a notorious Russian troll farm implicated by U.S. investigators, leaked paperwork, and former insiders in attempts to mess with U.S. elections. According to the indictment, an IRA employee used Raza’s companies to obtain cast driver’s licenses in 2017 to identify fraudulent Facebook accounts.
According to Raza, the cash from the fake ID business was used to build the Fresh Air Farm House, which is now on the US sanctions list alongside Russian oligarchs and defense contractors.
Raza’s business illustrates how cyber-crime can be used to launch disinformation campaigns.
Using a Pakistani fake ID merchant to evade American social media controls has highlighted why a globalized cyber-crime economy that touches so many areas can be a good place to hide, even for nation-states.
The recent saga is one that has caused many to think deeply about the methods and implications of global cyber-crime.