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Feds: Iran sent intimidating emails targeting Florida voters and others

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – There are less than two weeks to go before Election Day.

With so much anger and divisiveness surrounding the election, there are now reports of electronic voter intimidation.

An email, purportedly from the Proud Boys, a far-right group, threatened violence if their target doesn’t agree to vote for President Trump.

The Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, along with the FBI held a press conference in Washington on Wednesday saying that Iran was behind the emails that went out to voters in Florida and Alaska and some other states.

“You may have seen some reporting on this in the last 24 hours, or you may have even been one of the recipients of those emails," Ratcliffe said the FBI news conference.

WATCH BELOW: Local 10′s Ross Palombo reports from Washington D.C.:

As Floridians begin casting their ballots this week, email inboxes targeting specific voters are being flooded with threatening messages. The government intelligence shows that there are spoof emails from foreign actors being sent directly to voters whose information they have obtained. The intelligence community also said Russia has voter information.

The news conference warned voters to be aware that these types of tactics are being used to influence the 2020 elections.

South Florida native Cecilia Lepa received two of the cryptic letters Tuesday.

Each one had her full home address and threatened her to comply by changing her party affiliation to Republican and voting for President Trump.

“It was addressed to me, my full name,” she said. “It was like, ‘You’re a registered Democrat and you need to vote for me or else we’ll come after you.’”

The email said: “We will know who you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you.”

“I read that and I immediately knew it was some sort of scam, that no one was coming after me and I had already voted,” she said.

The sender appeared to be the far-right wing group Proud Boys, an organization that civil rights groups classify as a hate group for affiliations with extremists.

But a spokesperson for Proud Boys on Wednesday denied any involvement behind the email threats, which targeted many Alachua County voters, where Cecelia registered as a college student at the University of Florida.

“At this time, we have no credible information that this is from a reliable source,” said Sgt. Frank Kinsey with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

The personal attack was not enough to sway Cecelia, a very determined voter.

“As long as people know that they’re safe and that that’s not a credible threat, that they still go out and vote, that’s what i care about,” she said. “It was scary and knowing that they’re using this information and blasting out emails to intimidate people is not comforting.”

Ratcliffe also said that Iran was distributing a video with false information about fraudulent ballots.

“Iran is distributing other content to include a video that implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots, even from overseas. This video and any claims about such allegedly fraudulent ballots are not true,” he said.


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