The Malta Independent 29 September 2021, Wednesday

Scammers try to catfish newsrooms with fake emails from Jason Azzopardi, Manuel Delia

Neil Camilleri & Albert Galea Thursday, 26 August 2021, 10:50 Last update: about 2 months ago

Scammers have once again tried to catfish journalists with fake emails purportedly sent by PN MP Jason Azzopardi and civil society activist Manuel Delia.

Several media houses were “accidentally” copied into an email thread between Azzopardi and Delia, but The Malta Independent has traced the emails back to a website that allows uses to send fake emails that appear to originate from real email accounts.

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In the thread received on Wednesday evening, Azzopardi tells Delia that the police commissioner informed him [Azzopardi] that he will not publish emails “that I had with with Keith.”

“So we are safe, you can keep attacking as we don´t have to worry the commissioner said. Thanks for helping in our campaign, you know it´s highly appreciated.”

In a reply, Delia tells Azzopardi that, “we will of course keep attacking and I´m happy that the police is on our side.”

In the most recent email in the fake thread, Azzopardi asks Delia to call him. “I found something interesting.”

While the senders’ emails used are the real ones, one giveway was the fact that both men sign their emails formally in full name and surname. The fact that Azzopardi ‘used’ his official Parliament email address was another sign that the emails were fake.

This newsroom examined the email thread’s source code and traced it back to a website called ‘Emkei’s Fake Emailer’, which is based in the Czech Republic.

The website allows users to send emails that appear to originate from real email accounts. The system is designed in a way that, if one were to reply to the email, the reply would actually be delivered to Azzopardi and Delia’s real email accounts.

Unlike previous emails received by this newsroom, the thread received on Wednesday looks genuine and it was only by looking into the source code that we could verify that the entire thing is a sham.

Furthermore, Azzopardi confirmed when contacted by this newsroom that he never wrote or saw these emails. He said he would be writing to the Police Commissioner to investigate.

On Wednesday, Fenech’s lawyers demanded that the police investigate Azzopardi and Delia over their “attack” on Judge Giovanni Grixti, after it emerged that the latter had bought a boat from Fenech’s late father, George.

The judge was tasked with deciding on a request for bail by Fenech. He ultimately denied the request. It is believed that the fabricated email thread refers to the same "attacks."

 

Fake email from Repubblika

This was not the only fake email received by this newsroom overnight. In fact, another email, purportedly sent by civil society NGO Repubblika also turned out to be a fake.

In the email, the NGO “condemns” certain journalists who “are making it impossible for Yorgen Fenech's lawyers to do their job.”

Saying it cannot accept this anymore, the group demands “protection” for Fenech’s lawyers.

A look at this email’s source code confirms that it also originated from the same fake email generator website.

Repubblika president Robert Aquilina told this newsroom that the NGO did not send the email and would be filing a police report. 

 

Not the first time

Last week, this newsroom also received a fake email claiming to be from Manuel Delia. The activist confirmed with this newsroom that the email address used in that particular case did not belong to him. 

A few years back, this newsroom had received, in an anomyous package, a printout of what looked like an email thread between former PN Leader Simon Busuttil and slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The Malta Independent had confirmed that those emails were also fabricated.

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