Spyware’s Odd Targets: Backers of Mexico’s Soda Tax

2/11/2017 New York Times

using smartphoneSAN FRANCISCO — Last summer, Dr. Simón Barquera’s phone started buzzing with a series of disturbing text messages from unknown numbers. One said his daughter had been in a serious accident. Another claimed to be from a friend whose father had died — with a link to funeral details.

Yet another message informed Dr. Barquera, the director of nutrition policy at Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health, that a Mexican news outlet had accused him of negligence, again with a link. And in more menacing messages, someone claimed to be sleeping with Dr. Barquera’s wife. That included a link to what the sender claimed was photo evidence of their affair.

That same week, Luis Manuel Encarnación, then the director at Fundación Mídete, a foundation in Mexico City that battles obesity, also started receiving strange messages with links. When he clicked, Mr. Encarnación was ominously redirected to Gayosso, Mexico’s largest funeral service.

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