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Arabic press review: Fake Bitcoin platform defrauds half-a-million Egyptians

Meanwhile, Jordan condemns remarks by Israeli minister Bezalel Smotrich, and Lebanese authorities thwart a mother's attempt to sell daughter
A man walks past a wall painted with an anti-bitcoin graffiti (AFP/File photo)
A man walks past a wall painted with anti-Bitcoin graffiti (AFP)

Half-a-million Egyptians victims of Bitcoin fraud

Thousands of Egyptians were the victims of fraud by a fictitious online platform that promoted itself as a Bitcoin investment vehicle, according to a report on Thursday by London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

"Hogpool" collected millions of Egyptian pounds from users over a seven-month period, before those responsible for the company shut down the website and disappeared. 

The fake company was set up in August by specialists in electronic fraud, the report stated. 

It lured users in by offering them small returns on initial investments, before roping them into "a circle of fraud". The website was promoted by paid social media influencers. 

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At least 600,000 Egyptians had subscribed to the platform by the time of its sudden closure. 

Several subscribers filed a complaint to Egypt's attorney general, accusing the fraudulent company of "seizing their money" and "deluding its clients". 

Egyptian MP Hisham al-Jahel raised the matter in parliament, calling for an investigation and tighter restrictions on online platforms. 

Jordan condemns Smotrich remarks 

Jordan's foreign ministry has condemned "inflammatory statements" made by Israel's far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich. 

On Wednesday, Smotrich stated: "The Palestinian village of Huwwara should be wiped out. The state needs to do it and not private citizens."

Sinan al-Majali, Jordan's foreign ministry spokesperson, said the calls for violence would result in "serious consequences" and were a violation of international humanitarian law, according to state news agency Petra.  

He urged Israel to stop targeting Palestinians and for steps to be taken toward "resolving the conflict on the basis of the two-state solution". 

Last week, Jordan hosted a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials in the Red Sea resort town of Aqaba in an effort to de-escalate growing violence. 

Huwwara: A town of olives, gold traders and stolen lands
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At least one Palestinian was killed and nearly 400 were wounded last weekend in settler attacks on Huwwara and other occupied West Bank towns and villages in the Nablus area. The violence followed a shooting that killed two Israelis in the town of Huwwara.

Smotrich took to Twitter on Sunday while attacks were ongoing to promote a thread that recommended the "collective punishment of [a] terrorist's family and environment as an effective and necessary tool in asymmetric warfare".

He also demanded that the Israeli army "hit Palestinian cities, with tanks and helicopters, mercilessly, in a way that would convey that the owner of the house [involved in violence against Israelis] has gone mad".

Former Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said that Smotrich was supporting the settler violence and "wants to cause another Palestinian Nakba", using a term that describes the massacres and forced expulsion Palestinians endured at the hands of Zionist militias in 1948, as the new Israeli state came into existence.

Syrian mother tries to sell child 

Lebanon's security forces have thwarted the attempt of a Syrian mother to sell her daughter for $1,000, according to a report published by Al-Rai newspaper.

The mother and her Lebanese husband tried to sell the child through an intermediary, who was to receive a commission of $400. The buyer had intended to exploit the child, according to authorities.

Lebanon's internal security forces announced that its office for combating people trafficking had received information about a child being sold to a buyer "with the aim of exploiting her later in the field of prostitution". 

The Lebanese police said they were able to lure those involved through an ambush operation. The mother, husband and two mediators were arrested. 

"They were all arrested for the crime of people trafficking, and the girl was handed over to an association," the internal security force said in a statement. 

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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