Man charged for selling gift cards on the darknet to fund ISIS

06/12/2023Darknet News, USA

A Massachusetts teenager, age 18, is charged with trying to earn more than $1,600 for ISIS by selling gift cards on the dark web, including those for Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon. However, the teenager’s father stated that his son had been “railroaded.”

Mateo Ventura, a Wakefield resident accused with deliberately hiding the source of resources or material assistance to a foreign terrorist group, made his initial court appearance on Thursday in US District Court in Worcester.

The Wakefield Memorial High School student was told to stay in detention until a bond hearing on Wednesday.

Paul Ventura, Ventura’s father, told reporters outside the courthouse that because Ventura was born prematurely, he has developmental and learning challenges and has been bullied at school.

He vehemently disputed that the teen had given financial assistance to the radical Islamic group.

Paul Ventura recalled the moment the FBI arrived to take Mateo into custody on Thursday morning: “My son said, ‘Dad, I don’t understand, I didn’t do anything wrong,'” he recalled.

“My son is not a terrorist,” he said.

Ventura was accused of participating in a plot to sell gift cards on the dark web for less than their face value and donate the money earned to ISIS, according to the prosecution.

According to an affidavit, Ventura mailed around 25 gift cards totaling $965 between August 2020 and August 2021 to a person he believed to be an ISIS supporter but who was actually an undercover FBI agent.

He was a young man at the time.

Ventura gave the fake ISIS supporter an additional $705 in gift cards between January and May after turning 18, according to the prosecution.

The majority of the cards, which had values ranging from $10 to $100 each, came from the Google Play Store. Others came from Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and GameStop.

According to court filings, the Massachusetts adolescent expressed interest in traveling abroad to join ISIS while using a secure messaging program.

According to the court records, the 18-year-old delivered the undercover agent an audio clip in which he declared his loyalty to the then-ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurash.

According to reports, Ventura even went so far as to purchase an airline ticket for a trip to Cairo in April, but he never made it on board.

In return for $10 million and amnesty, Ventura allegedly promised to inform the FBI about upcoming terrorist strikes in Egypt in April of this year, but the officials rejected his offer.

Mateo Ventura’s father, Paul Ventura, stated that his son, who he claimed is computer literate, was attempting to assist the FBI “and work with them” by demonstrating to them how simple it is for Americans to communicate with terrorists online.

He is a devoted American in every way. Absolutely,” the single dad said. He disapproves of terrorism. He dislikes it. He enjoys learning about it.

If found guilty, Mateo Ventura may spend up to 10 years in jail.