The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program, which is administered by the Diplomatic Security Service, is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information on any person who, while acting at the direction of or under the control of a foreign government, interferes with U.S. elections by violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
The Department seeks information on Iranian cyber actors Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian – contractors employed by Iranian cyber company Emennet Pasargad – who participated in an Iranian state-sponsored, multi-phased online operation that attempted to interfere with the 2020 U.S. presidential election. This malicious cyber operation ran from at least August through November 2020 and sought to sow discord and undermine voters’ faith in the U.S. electoral process. In November 2021, these individuals and their employer, Emennet Pasargad, were designated under Executive Order 13848 for their role in attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Kazemi helped to carry out the voter intimidation and influence campaign by compromising servers, which were used to send the threatening voter emails, preparing emails for the voter threat email campaign, and compromising the email accounts of an American media company.
Kashian managed computer network infrastructure used to conduct the voter intimidation and influence campaign and sought to purchase social media accounts in furtherance of the voter intimidation and influence campaign.
Both individuals face sanctions and federal criminal charges in connection with their activities.