Pretend Latvian official tried to wise up on Russia sanctions from US Senator

A fraudster who claimed to be an employee of the Latvian Foreign Ministry attempted to obtain inside information from US Senator Jeanne Shaheen over sanctions against Russia, The Daily Beast news portal reported July 30.

The incident took place in November 2017 and The Daily Beast said it had obtained emails and an audio recording confirming it.

Shaheen was contacted through her staff last November by an individual who said he worked for the Foreign Ministry of Latvia.

The man said he was trying to set up a phone call between the senator and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs. The purpose of the meeting, he said in an email, was to discuss "prolongation of anti-Russian sanctions" and "general security with Kaspersky laboratory case".

Shaheen authored a U.S. law mandating a government-wide purge of software made by Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab, and is a key backer of sanctions intended to isolate Russia for its incursions into Ukraine and its interference in western democracies. Her efforts have earned her a spot on an official Russian government "blacklist", The Daily Beast reported.

A member of the senator's staff replied and proposed a date and time for a phone call between Shaheen and Rinkēvičs. The supposed Latvian official, who called himself Arturs Vaiders and listed his job title as the "second secretary of the state protocol", agreed. But before the call could take place, Shaheen’s office contacted the Latvian embassy to check the identity of the contact. The embassy responded that the supposed official was a fake.

 In what may be a coincidence, the name used was the same as a renowned Latvian sports journalist who died in 2016.

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