The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) exposed a powerful “sock puppet farm” in Chernivtsi city. Dealers were “nurturing” sock puppets on social media sites and selling them in the black market. According to available information, the criminals created and “promoted” more than 20,000 sock puppets.
The officers found that most sock puppet profiles were bought by pro-Russian agitators. Accounts have a long history and were verified on social media sites using fake passports of Ukrainian citizens.
Sock puppets were used to discredit the Ukrainian state and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, to justify the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, and to incite anti-vaccination sentiments.
According to the investigation, the group of cyber dealers consisted of about 15 people. The activity was carried out in a specially rented office in Chernivtsi.
During searches conducted in the premises where the “sock puppet farm” was based, law enforcement officers found and seized:
- Computer equipment with evidence of illegal activity
- Special software
- Almost 6,400 SIM starter kits of Ukrainian and foreign mobile operators, including Russian ones
- More than 4,000 payment cards of Ukrainian banks.
The investigation is underway to identify and prosecute all those involved in the scheme.