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DECISION 2020: FBI specialist seeks to shut down scammers influencing Oklahoma voters

Oklahoma State Election Board officials warn of potential email scam asking about vote information
Posted at 3:31 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 19:53:18-04

TULSA, Okla. — An election crimes specialist with the FBI Oklahoma City Division is taking aim at cyber scammers trying to influence Oklahoma voters. Scammers are sending disinformation and voter intimidation messages to voters in the state ahead of the presidential election.

"We have had allegations of various election crimes," Casey Cox, a supervisory special agent with the FBI's Election Crimes and Security unit. "Allegations that have impacted individuals here in Oklahoma."

Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax issued a voter alert on Monday in response to a fraudulent text message sent to voters. The message incorrectly told voters their polling location changed.

A student at the University of Oklahoma told KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City she received a threatening email that told her to vote for President Donald Trump.

"Bad actors are going to capitalize on any opportunity they can find," Cox said. "We have some very talented individuals within the FBI who are very adept and able to find out who's behind a keyboard."

Cox told 2 Works for You, deception and voter intimidation ramp up right before a presidential election.

He said social media is a hot bed for election manipulation.

Cox said it also is not immediately clear where the scammers are operating from. The FBI pinpointed political interference from Iran, but Cox said scammers could also be here in Green Country.

"The challenge is determining who is actually behind those, but yes, it could very well be a domestic group as well as it could be a foreign organization," Cox said.

Cox said he is still confident the November 3 general election is secure.

He said voters can look for tips on how to spot a potential voter scam on the FBI's Protected Voices web page.

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