Wednesday, November 4, 2020

FBI Investigates Automated Calls To Voters With Message To "Stay Home"


Voters across the United States received anonymous phone calls in a machine voice ahead of the presidential election, with a warning to "stay safe and be at home," and officials say it was aimed at scaring voters, the Washington Post reports.

The FBI is investigating the origin of those calls, a senior official of the Department of Homeland Security told reporters on Tuesday.

Short calls in a computerized female voice did not mention the elections, but given the time of the calls, the message is clear- said citizens, not hiding that it upset them.

Automated calls are regularly made to residents in as much as 90 percent of the United States, according to the analysis of the technology company "YouMail", which produces software for suppressing machine phone calls, which are widely used for advertising goods and services.

According to "YouMail", those calls to voters to stay at home started this summer, but their number of calls has increased dramatically in recent weeks. In October alone, there were 10 million of those calls.

Alex Quilici, YouMail’s chief executive, said that whoever created those "robo-calls", used sophisticated tactics, technically concealing their identity and location. The very content of the call indicates that the goal is to create confusion and fear, and "that could be an indication of who is doing it," he said.

“If you wanted to cause havoc in America for the elections, one way to do it is clearly robocalling,” he said. “This whole thing is exposing [that] it can be very difficult to react quickly to a large volume calling campaign.”

Quilici also stressed that behind the recent wave of robo-calls is apparently not a 12-year-old with a computer, but some person or organization that is far more capable and serious.

A State Security official, who did not want his identity revealed, warned that "there are robotic calls of this kind during every election" and advised people "not to be disturbed and to vote".

Officials warned of a special series of robotic calls to voters in Flint, Michigan, on Tuesday, with the false claim that they can vote on Wednesday as well because there are long queues at polling stations on Tuesday. In fact, Tuesday was the last day to vote.

Michigan state prosecutor Dana Nessel pointed out that it was "an attempt to suppress the vote" and told the citizens "Don't believe the lies!"

Michigan is a critical state that President Donald Trump and his opponent in the elections, former US Vice President Joseph Biden, focused on in the last days of the campaign. Flint is largely committed to the Democratic Party and most of the residents are black.

In addition, on October 1, Nessel filed an indictment against two political operatives accused of organizing a series of robotic calls "aimed at suppressing voting" in the elections. Those calls were made to nearly 12,000 Detroit residents, she said.

The calls falsely claimed that voting by mail enables voters' personal data to reach the police and creditors, and to lead to "mandatory vaccination" against coronavirus, Nessel said.

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