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Government The Almighty Buck United States Security

FBI Says Islamic State Used eBay, PayPal To Channel Money To the US (theverge.com) 57

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Islamic State allegedly used PayPal and fake eBay transactions to channel money to an operative in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reports. The man who allegedly received the money was American citizen Mohamed Elshinawy, who was arrested last year in Maryland. The FBI claims that Elshinawy, in his early 30s, sold computer printers on eBay as a front in order to receive the payments through PayPal. The details have come to light because of a recently unsealed FBI affidavit, which alleges Elshinawy was part of a worldwide network that used such channels to fund ISIS. Elshinawy received $8,700 from ISIS, including five PayPal payments from senior ISIS official Siful Sujan through his technology company. Those funds were used to buy a laptop, a cellphone, and a VPN to communicate with IS, according to the affidavit. Sujan was killed in a drone strike in 2015. eBay told The Wall Street Journal it "has zero tolerance for criminal activities taking place on our marketplace." Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for PayPal said it "invests significant time and resources in working to prevent terrorist activity on our platform. We proactively report suspicious activities and respond quickly to lawful requests to support law enforcement agencies in their investigations."
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FBI Says Islamic State Used eBay, PayPal To Channel Money To the US

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  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2017 @11:49PM (#54996717)

    PayPal gives you enough of a hard time getting your money when your legit.... They freeze funds at will and seemingly at random based on smallest complaint or suspicion... But activity like this gets by???

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @02:59AM (#54997191)

      But activity like this gets by???

      Uhh, it was $8700 over several months. The guy could have made more money if he just got a job at McDonalds. Maybe ISIS's "vast worldwide network" isn't such a big threat after all.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The guy could have made more money if he just got a job at McDonalds.

        Someone with a real job doesn't have time to be up to no good.

        That is why the so called "cybercommandos" are so efficient at spreading propaganda.
        Regular people with a 8-5 job spends less than an hour every day on a few forum and write one or two posts.
        A professional shitposter can spend 10 minutes writing a text, post it to a hundred forums and then move on to write the next post.
        It is very cheap to create the impression of a majority or drown out unwanted opinions that way.

        $8700 isn't much, but it might b

      • > Maybe ISIS's "vast worldwide network" isn't such a big threat after all.

        Yes, but "anti-ISIS" bullshit government project is big. Too big to fail. Too bureaucratic to cancel.

        I keep repeating this, but who listens? The number one reason why there is law enforcement effort against Islam is Kafkaesque, not Orwellian. Bureaucratic, not partocratic.

        - Event
        - Use event to create bureaucracy
        - Use bureaucracy for self-serving purposes by creating cases out of thing air
        - And, as you have guess exactly, profit.

    • We have to close ebay and paypal. They are a bunch of terrorist allies it seems.

    • I guess now we know where your money goes when your account gets mysteriously frozen.

      • by v1 ( 525388 )

        Several times I've ran into VERY small items and seen them listed for absolutely absurd amounts. I'm talking $0.25 electronic components listed for $285. With several completed sales. That's some pretty obvious money laundering or covert payment going on there. I'd always assumed they were payments for drug sales, but I suppose this is another possibility.

        But whatever the case, the problem isn't eBay. Trying to take them on over this is like trying to shutter the cell phone towers because the terrorist

  • The evidence? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nanoflower ( 1077145 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @12:01AM (#54996769)

    I hope the FBI has more evidence than the summary or the article has. All that they state is that he sold a cellphone, laptop and a VPN service to a company. That company happened to be owned by a guy associate with ISIS.

    Then they make the leap that the money paid was going to be used to plan an attack in the US. All of which may be true but unless they have the guy on record as planning an attack or captured his plans it's going to be hard to prove that case. So either the FBI has a weak case or this is a really weak article.

  • by chromaexcursion ( 2047080 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @12:23AM (#54996827)
    I've bought things internationally. Less than $1000 it's not a big deal. Probably an easy way to spoof the payment system. But it takes a lot of payments. Just sell as many Xbox3's as you need. If they're over priced, no one else will buy them. And, hey, no complaints.

    on a different note
    I needed to make a cash payment over $1000, for travel arrangements (in Italy). It took 3 trips to the bank, I had to be in person to sign, and multiple forms filled out. As an individual, international transactions are fantastically difficult. They're solving the wrong problem.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Thank the war on drugs for that.... we're all guilty until proven innocent.

    • The 80s called - they want their "wire transfer" back.

      In the various countries and banks I've been with over the last 17 years, international transfer have been as easy as domestic payment. The main difference is the length of the account number vs. SWIFT / IBAN, and the slickness of the web form to fill out. Typing in the address of the receiving bank is a bit daft, if you ask me.

      If you have to show up with papers to make a small transfer (and below $10.000 is small in today's money), then somebody's doing

  • I agree with eBay here: we can have no tolerance for terrorist activity. The only safe answer is to completely shut down eBay and PayPal. Please, won't you think of the children!

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Saturday August 12, 2017 @12:47AM (#54996893) Homepage Journal
    So they funded him by buying goods and services with money? Motherfucker, that's a JOB!
    • Many times I've stumbled on ridiculously overpriced items on ebay.
      Like clearly overpriced... well... plastic junk.

      I remember finding a silicone cover for my sister's phone - priced at over a 1000 dollars. The phone was about 170$ at the time.
      And that's not taking in account auctioned items where both sides can jack up the price for easy transfer of money.

      Hell... if you want to maintain appearance of legality, buy a year-old mobile phone, disassemble it and put each part up for auction.
      Ebay is full of overpr

      • by richy freeway ( 623503 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @03:13AM (#54997211)

        Many times I've stumbled on ridiculously overpriced items on ebay.
        Like clearly overpriced... well... plastic junk.

        I remember finding a silicone cover for my sister's phone - priced at over a 1000 dollars. The phone was about 170$ at the time

        I believe they jack the price when they run out of stock so they can keep the same listing active and not pay extra fees.

        • Interesting idea.

          I just figured things like this (I have witnessed it on NewEgg) were there to try to con sloppy/stupid business folks. Your explanation seems a bit more likely since these sites would eventually shut down such obvious cons.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The US used Libya and Saudi Arabia and Turkey to channel weapons to ISIS (and Al Qaeda.. double your profits). Did eBay or PayPal provide free shipping for such a big order? Or was it "structured" to avoid detection? Really, what's the big deal?

    capcha: plunders

  • If Islamic State wants to give foreign aid donations to the USA despite the lack of diplomatic relations, that's nice. It's not as if the major challenge would-be terrorists in America face is lack of money. For those in need of money, does their sense of honor prevent them from robbing people or are they afraid of being shot before they can blow themselves up?

  • How exactly things happened?
    Elshinawy sold printers and someone from ISIS bought it, and that was it?
    Nothing eBay can possibly do in a case that is a legal transaction really... well, of course, hand out information, let police monitor accounts when it's known to be tied to terrorist operations and whatnot. But it's not like they are dealing in terrordollars or something.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The US is tracking structuring https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      Any strange pattern of any amount can start an investigation.
      Banks do more with currency transaction reporting, suspicious activity reporting, monetary instrument logs. Lots changed with the Bank Secrecy Act.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      Lots of small amounts doing things are now just as interesting as the $10000 plus movement of funds was in the past.
  • While the government would have us believe that if they can read everyones emails and facebook accounts at will we are all safer, the truth is that with all the backdoors in the world they cannot stop terrorism. If it wasn't ebay or paypal it would be another service or method. Sophisticated terror orgs have a multitude of creative ways to do what they do. Education and freely available resources will do more to curb terrorism than a ban on encryption or a money transfer service... Then again if there is
  • ... the FBI will need blanket authority to examine any transaction, no matter how small.

  • It is also reported that the terrorists used US Dollars to fund their activities! Ban US Dollar!!!1

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker