‘Proud Boys’ Emails Threatening Florida Voters Appear to Use Spoofed Email Address
The emails, which read ‘Vote for Trump or else!’ have been delivered to Democratic voters using Estonian internet infrastructure.
Some Democratic voters in Florida have been receiving unsolicited emails purportedly from the Proud Boys, a far-right street-fighting gang. The emails are threatening: “Vote for Trump or else!” the subject line says.
“We are in possession of all your information,” the email reads. “You are currently registered as a Democrat, and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you. Good luck.”
Motherboard obtained a full copy of one of the emails, which includes metadata and email headers. The email nominally says it was sent from the address “email@example.com.” The headers have more clues about where it came from, or at least what infrastructure the senders used. The “client-ip” address in the headers points to an Estonian IP, suggesting the senders spoofed the email address displayed to receivers. The Proud Boys, on some of their official channels, have claimed to have nothing to do with the emails, though it is of course possible that someone involved with the Proud Boys was involved in spoofing the emails. Local media in Florida has reported that the FBI is investigating.
A man who received the email said the personal data included in the threatening email, including his full name, and home address, were accurate. Moreover, the email address where he received the message is “a one-off-email I only use for voting stuff,” he said.
Motherboard agreed to keep him anonymous because of the threatening nature of the email.
The email headers and the fact that this man’s email was unique to his voting records suggests that the Proud Boys, or whoever was pretending to be them, got the man’s details from public voter rolls, accessible to anyone. VICE was able to confirm that the man’s personal details are publicly available online just by searching for his first and last name, plus the keywords “democrat” and “Florida.”
The man, who works in the IT industry, explained that the message “was NOT originally detected as spam by Google,” and that he then marked it as such in an attempt to get Google to flag the same email to others as spam, and eventually block it.
Moreover, from his own analysis of the email metadata, he said it appears that the senders used a new domain and didn’t bother to set it up so people could even reply to it: “The host that sent the email looks like a throw-away hoster from Estonia,” he said.