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Histadrut election candidate’s campaign manager arrested for cyber fraud

Police say the accused sent ‘hundreds of thousands’ of fraudulent text messages to labor federation members with aim of overwhelming opponent’s phone lines

Ofer Eini, former president of the Israeli Football Association (IFA), takes part in a press conference on June 6, 2018, in Ramat Gan. (AFP / JACK GUEZ)
Ofer Eini, former president of the Israeli Football Association (IFA), takes part in a press conference on June 6, 2018, in Ramat Gan. (AFP / JACK GUEZ)

Former Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini’s campaign manager was arrested Sunday on suspicion of cyber fraud, police say.

The manager was investigated by the police anti-corruption unit Lahav 433 after he allegedly spread fake text messages in an attempt to flood his opponent Arnon Bar-David’s campaign office with phone calls ahead of the elections for the leadership of the organization in May.

In the election, Bar-David defeated Eini, winning 77.7% of the vote and the presidency of the Histadrut, which represents the majority of workers’ unions in Israel.

The campaign manager, who remains unnamed, allegedly devised a text message that read, “Dear customer, your payment was successfully registered. Didn’t make a purchase? Call: [phone number].” The phone number belonged to Bar-David’s campaign headquarters.

With hundreds of thousands of union members receiving the message, Bar-David’s campaign was inundated with phone calls, forcing it to halt its work.

“In May, during elections for the Histadrut, a complaint was received by the cyber unit regarding text messages sent by the campaign office of one of the candidates for president of the Histadrut, which were received by hundreds of thousands of activists and potential voters with the apparent aim of deceiving them and damaging the opposition’s campaign,” police said in a statement Sunday.

“This morning… we arrested the campaign manager for the purposes of an investigation, on suspicion of harassment using a telephone, [and] disrupting elections… During the investigation testimonies were collected and a number of involved people were questioned. The investigation is ongoing,” police said.

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