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April 16, 2021

US sanctions Pak Co working as Russian proxy

Top Story

April 16, 2021

WASHINGTON: The US Thursday sanctioned a Pakistan-based organisation and six individuals for acting on behalf of Russian network that attempted to interfere in American presidential election. The sweeping action against the company, called Second Eye Solution, and six Pakistani nationals comes along with other similar sanctions imposed on 32 Russian entities and individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 US presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian government.

The US Department of Treasury Thursday announced that a Pakistani company, Second Eye Solution, also known as Forwarders, was also part of the network that created and sold fraudulent identities and assisted the IRA in concealing its identity to evade sanctions. The Internet Research Agency (IRA) here is a Russian troll farm that Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, designated pursuant to E.O. 13848 in 2018 for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

The department's announcement follows the Intelligence Community's "Assessment of Foreign Threats to the 2020 US Federal Elections."

The assessment addresses the intentions and efforts of key foreign actors, including Russia, to influence or interfere with the US elections and undermine public confidence in the election process.

Besides the Pakistani organization identified in the announcement, there were also six individuals who were instrumental in processing payment for fraudulent identities. Fresh Air Farm House, Like Wise, and MK Softtech are also four Pakistani front companies used to launder Second Eye Solution (SES) profits.

"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 licenses images from SES. The purchased licenses were used as support documents for online social media accounts opened by the IRA,” according to the Department of Treasury.

The department says the fraudulent documents produced by SES were likely used at many online services to evade sanctions and anti-money laundering screening protocols beyond what OFAC had been able to identify.

SES advertises that their fraudulent documents may be used on social media, freelancing job postings, and commerce platforms.

"As part of today's listing of SES on OFAC's Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, OFAC is also identifying digital currency addresses used by SES to fulfill customer orders in order to help assist financial institutions, and their third-party identity verification services, in identifying customers on their platforms who have purchased fraudulent identity documents. Known SES digital currency addresses have received over 2.5 million dollars in digital currencies over more than 26,900 transactions from 2013 to March 2021," the department said.

SES was designated pursuant to E.O.s 13848 and 13694, for acting on behalf of the IRA. The individuals were designated for acting for or on behalf of SES.