- Mateo Ventura, 18, of Wakefield, Massachusetts, has been charged with sending $1,670 in gift cards to an undercover federal agent whom he believed was an ISIS sympathizer.
- Ventura’s alleged intent in providing the cards, each valued anywhere from $10 to $100, was to fund a war on nonbelievers.
- Ventura will appear in court Thursday on a charge of knowingly concealing the source of material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.
An 18-year-old Massachusetts man sent gift cards worth a total of $1,670 to someone he thought was a supporter of the Islamic State group that he intended to be used to fund a war on nonbelievers, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Mateo Ventura, of Wakefield, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Worcester later Thursday on a charge of knowingly concealing the source of material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said in a statement.
An email seeking comment was left with Ventura’s federal public defender.
Ventura wanted the gift cards to be sold on the dark web for slightly less than face value with the resulting proceeds to be used to support the Islamic State group, prosecutors said.
Between August 2020 and August 2021, Ventura provided about 25 cards with a total face value of $965 to someone he thought was an Islamic State group sympathizer but was actually an undercover FBI agent, according to an FBI affidavit included in court documents. Ventura was still a juvenile at the time.
He provided another $705 in gift cards after turning 18 between January and May, authorities said.
The cards ranged in value from $10 to $100.
Ventura, using an online encrypted messaging application, also expressed a desire to travel overseas and fight with the Islamic State group, according to the affidavit. He even went so far as to buy an airline ticket to Cairo in April, but he never departed and he did not reschedule or cancel his flight, the affidavit says.
On one occasion, Ventura sent an audio file to the undercover agent pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State caliphate, according to documents.
Ventura also contacted the FBI and offered to disclose information about future terror attacks in exchange for $10 million, according to the affidavit.
If convicted, Ventura faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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