Democratic voters in at least four battleground states including Florida and Pennsylvania received threatening emails, falsely purporting to be from the far-right group Proud Boys.
Officials on Wednesday night said Tehran used voter registration information obtained by Russia to send out the spoofed emails. The messages warned “we will come after you” if the recipients did not vote for Donald Trump.
John Ratcliffe, the intelligence director, and FBI Director Chris Wray said the US would impose costs on any foreign countries interfering in the 2020 presidential vote.
The voter intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers.
Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation.
The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the November 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.
“These emails are meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections,” Christopher Krebs, the top election security official at the Department of Homeland Security, said after reports of the emails first surfaced.
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