Pakistani intelligence is using fraudulent “babas” (religious leaders) and spiritual gurus to entrap serving officers and their dependents to “extract sensitive information”, the Army has told its personnel.
In an advisory sent to all its personnel in mid-October, the Army is learned to have said that Pakistani intelligence officers “posing as babas or spiritual gurus” are using video platforms such as YouTube to target service personnel and their families in an attempt to “win over their trust”.
After they gain trust, the Pakistani intelligence personnel use platforms such as WhatsApp or video-calling services like Skype “to extract sensitive information”.
The Army has listed these religious or spiritual gurus in the advisory, which also warns soldiers against Pakistani intelligence officials posing as women on social media to honeytrap. The advisory cautions that these intelligence agents are trying to “honeytrap, lure, entice or subvert” serving Army personnel, targeting even senior officers.
Close to 150 such Pakistani intelligence personnel, found to be using fake identification, have been “profiled” by the Army. Their communication with Indian soldiers and their dependents has also been reportedly intercepted.
The advisory is intended to create awareness about the technology and modus operandi of the “aggressive campaign” of Pakistani intelligence to target Indian Army personnel, dependents, units, etc, to “extract information pertaining to military and national security”.
The advisory mentions several methods to trap these serving personnel and their dependents, including creating fictitious “female profiles” on social media and then trying to establish contact, creating fraud lottery or chain marketing schemes, forwarding malicious apps or malware to gain access to the target’s phones, spoof-calling by acting as senior Army officers, and spreading rumours.
They “exploit social media” platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, TikTok, Telegram, Skype, YouTube, among others, to gather sensitive information and to cultivate serving and retired officers and their dependents, the advisory warned.
The advisory pointed out that these Pakistani intelligence agents also take “pseudo identities” such as insurance agents, senior officers of Army Headquarters or commands, representatives of Army Welfare Education Society, etc.