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The new sting against Israelis looking for cannabis abroad

Israeli fraudsters have found a way to make easy money at the expense of other Israelis traveling abroad. With the help of a new service provided by the banks, they force victims to transfer money and disappear soon after. The experts emphasize: never pay before receiving the goods.

An Israeli rogue group has identified a new method of stinging other Israelis traveling abroad and trying to find an available source for the purchase of cannabis.

In some cities of the world buying cannabis is quite simple and available, as described for example In the guide here, But there are many cities in more conservative countries where it's not easy at all.

Even when cannabis is available, there are quite a few Israelis who prefer to buy it abroad from some credible cause and avoid contacting local merchants or criminals.

Israeli crooks have recognized this demand from Israeli tourists abroad, and have found a way to cheat them and earn tens and hundreds of thousands of shekels.

These rogues are using a relatively new service provided by banks in Israel, enabling the transfer of money from anywhere in the world and withdrawing it anonymously at ATMs in Israel.

This service, called “Withdraw cash without a card,” is provided so that the customer passes on a unique code to the merchant received from the bank, which allows the merchant to withdraw money from an ATM without the need for a credit card.

ATM withdrawal using the card-free cash withdrawal service
NIS 400 withdrawal made by ATM through ATM card withdrawal service

The crooks in Israel are enticing Israeli tourists staying abroad to transfer the money to them Before delivery By bank transfer or alternatively by handing over the code, allegedly in order to perform a "truth check", when in practice they withdraw the money with his help.

The sting goes like this:

  • The crooks "sit" on one of the groups in the Telegram app intended to buy cannabis abroad, and wait for victims to look for cannabis in countries such as Russia, Malta, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, etc. - the ones where it is more difficult to find cannabis available.
  • As soon as a customer requests help locating a source in such countries, the crooks contact him through a temporary username and offer him a tempting menu.
  • The customer goes through a verification process during which he delivers personal information, and is then asked to pass the code to withdraw the money from the ATM.
  • If the customer passes the code, the fake dealer pulls the money and disappears.
  • If the customer refuses to pass the code, he is threatened that his personal details he gave just a moment ago will be used for "shaming" and spreading rumors about him in the app.

Sometimes the crooks even use a telegram account that pretends to be a "bot" on behalf of a well-known group, which creates a misrepresentation of credibility. The customer types in the name of the city he is in and in response he receives a message from a private account pretending to be an automatic bot.

To date, the crooks seem to be "mostly" sitting on a telegram called "Isragras Directions Abroad," which provides such service. They pretend to be the managers of the group using the fake "bot" that bears the team name, but in fact behind it stands another person.

For the purpose of the impersonation, the crooks opened a fake user on a telegram called lsraGrass_world_bot, which looks exactly like the real name: IsraGrass_world_bot. The only difference is that the first letter in the real name is the letter I (“ay”), while forged it is the letter l (“to”, l) that looks exactly the same.

So far, this method has probably stung many hundreds of Israelis over several weeks. Each one gave at least a few hundred shekels to the crooks, so these are amounts that may have already reached as much as NIS 100,000 or even more.

For example, this morning (Wednesday) tells Cannabis magazine one of the Israelis who stung this method this week while in Moscow, the capital of Russia, where cannabis is not simply found:

“I was going to fly to Russia, and I went into the community to look for a link. After I typed in the target, someone in my address contacted me who identified himself as the director of an overseas community. He asked me where I was going and when I told him - gave me two names at the same destination. I contacted one of the names (in retrospect, I think it was the same person, but I didn't know it at the time), and said I was referred to by Isragas. He performed a verification process, and agreed with me on the price of 400 "which sounds reasonable to me."

"He said the payment was made through the community in the country, and referred me again to the Director (this time by another name). The manager asked me for transfer information via an app: which is a cash withdrawal code at the ATM. He said the code was for review by the "Community Representative in the Bank" and the money would only go into effect when I was in Russia and received the goods. After several failed attempts to get out of code (I probably had a problem with mobile SMS settings) I contacted my sister and asked her to do it for me. I sent him the code for withdrawing 400. Immediately afterwards, he said the operation failed because he typed in the wrong code and asked me to give him a new code - again, for confession. I contacted my sister again, and this checked and saw that NIS 400 had already been drawn.

Bank transfer made under the sting
Wire transfer for a total of NIS 700 performed under the sting

He added: “I told the simulated manager, but he reassured me that it was a known problem and the account would be reset within 24 hours. He again asked me to give him another new code. In spite of my smugness, I said that this time I would wait for the account reset, and I certainly would not give another code until then. He said there was no problem and the account would be reset in up to 24 hours. When that didn't happen either, I contacted him and he had already stopped answering and deleted the conversation history between us. When I briefly published the story in the community, someone in private contacted me again, offering his help with an invitation before flying abroad. I told him, of course, this time I would not make a payment or deliver code in advance, and then he began to claim that I was a police officer and swore. "

“For everyone's attention,” he concludes, “the sting works in an integrated method: the crook poses as both a local trader and a community branch manager, they turn to each other to produce a semblance of credibility. I fell into it, but I'm an adult who can withstand NIS 400 gone. Others may not. "

Another customer refused to use the money transfer through the new ATM service, but eventually ran and made a bank transfer of NIS 700 to the crook's account.

"I was in Kyrgyzstan and wanted to smoke something," she says in a conversation with the magazine. “Every time they offered me money transfer at the ATM, I got nervous. In my opinion, he came to me from several directions, learned my character and knew how to talk to me. In the end, I was able to convince him of wire transfer. ”

One of the executives in the Isragas group, who has actually fallen victim and serves as a fruitful pilgrimage to these stingers, is asking the Israelis never to make a payment before they receive the supplies, "no matter what they say or promise you".

Cannabis fines

(Starting with 1 in April 2019)

Based on a figure revealed by Minister Erdan. Police refuse to reveal official figureDetails here)

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