Tactical Rabbit’s Intelligence Director Everett Stern calls for Amazon and Facebook to implement stricter security controls on their account creation process. Stern alleges that account creation is so easy that bad actors such as terrorists could potentially use the platforms to move money and illicit goods around the world.
“The permissive environment on Amazon and Facebook Marketplace could allow foreign terrorist groups to generate revenue used to plan, develop, and carry out lethal operations,” says Stern. “We urge the top leadership of Amazon and Facebook to immediately develop and implement tighter and more stringent controls, regulations, and internal monitoring procedures to better protect American citizens.”
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Tactical Rabbit’s intelligence team was able to create an Amazon Marketplace account (site access restricted in some countries, VPN may be required) under an alias easily and quickly. The team then posted a watch for sale using just a picture, and another account was able to purchase the watch (which did not exist), effectively transferring money from one account to another. Stern alleges that this technique could be used by terrorists both inside and outside the United States to transfer money that could be used to fund operations.
While Facebook has a more complex account creation process than Amazon, it’s still relatively simple to create a fraudulent account (site access restricted in some countries, VPN may be required). The Tactical Rabbit team was able to create accounts using the names of individuals on the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned terrorist list. The accounts were allowed to stay open as long as they continued to verify an image of themselves as legitimate.
This would not be an isolated incident. In another case, terrorists used Facebook Groups to sell stolen and counterfeit goods and looted antiquities. In May 2019, reports emerged that at least 90 Facebook groups were linked to the sale of stolen Middle Eastern antiquities, including ones taken by Islamic State militants. Sellers posted items in Facebook groups, and when a member expressed interest, they moved the conversation to Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp so it was harder to track.
“Verifying the identities of the sellers on Amazon and Facebook Marketplace not only protects consumers using those platforms, but potentially protects all citizens,” says Stern. “Closing off an avenue that bad actors could potentially use to transfer money makes everyone safer.”
Tactical Rabbit is a private intelligence agency that specialises in intelligence collection and analysis, advocacy, and consulting services, led by Intelligence Director Everett Stern and a team of former CIA and FBI agents, United States special forces, and other professionals.