Iranian intelligence agents tried to lure Israelis to meet them abroad in an attempt to harm or kidnap them, the Shin Bet security service and Mossad intelligence agency said Monday.
"Their method is based on using fake profiles on social media and to get in contact with Israelis who have international business ties and frequently travel abroad," a joint statement said.
Iranian agents set up fake Instagram profiles, usually of women in the tourism business.
Using these fake profiles, the agents contacted Israelis to book a meeting with them abroad, trying to "draw" them to meetings on various business propositions or offers for a romantic rendezvous.
The countries named by the agencies include Arab countries, Turkey, the Gulf states, and countries in the Caucasus, Africa and Europe.
In at least one such incident, an Israeli has traveled abroad two months ago for a meeting where Iranian intelligence agents were waiting for him. Upon landing at an intermediate stop to change flights, the Shin Bet contacted the man and urged him to return to Israel.
"This is a well-known action pattern similar to the one carried out by Iran in the past against regime opponents in Europe," the Shin Bet said. "Now, Iran is acting similarly against Israeli citizens seeking to develop legitimate business ties abroad in the countries mentioned."
"There is a real fear that this activity by Iranian elements will lead to attempts to harm Israelis or abduct them," they added.
Security officials called on Israeli citizens who have business connections abroad to stay vigilant about social media inquiries from profiles they do not recognize and to contact them in any way.