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Program History and Statutory Authorities
Rewards for Justice (RFJ), the U.S. Department of State’s national security rewards program, was established by the 1984 Act to Combat International Terrorism, Public Law 98-533 (codified at 22 U.S.C. § 2708). Administered by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, RFJ’s mission is to offer rewards to obtain information that protects American lives and U.S. interests and furthers U.S. national security.
Since 1984, Congress has expanded RFJ’s statutory authorities to offer rewards for information in three broad categories:
- Terrorism. For information that:
- Leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who plans, commits, aids, or attempts international terrorist acts against U.S. persons or property in the United States or abroad;
- Prevents such acts from occurring in the first place;
- Identifies or locates a key terrorist leader; or
- Disrupts the financial mechanisms of foreign terrorist organizations. This includes the disruption of kidnapping networks and kidnapping events that financially support such organizations.
- Malicious Cyber Activity. For information that:
Identifies or locates any individual who, while acting at the direction or under the control of a foreign government, aids or abets a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030. This includes foreign election interference.
North Korea. For information that:
- Disrupts the financial mechanisms of persons or entities engaged in certain activities supporting the North Korean regime; or
- Identifies or locates any individual who, while acting at the direction or under the control of the North Korean government, aids or abets a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030. This includes cyber-attacks and intrusions on U.S. government systems.
Advertising Reward Offers
Once the Secretary of State has authorized a reward offer, RFJ advertises it and engages with target audiences in a culturally appropriate manner using a variety of tools, including social media, social chat applications, and traditional media.
RFJ advertisements direct individuals to text their information to RFJ’s language-specific tips lines via several widely available and encrypted messaging applications, including Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp. Individuals also may submit their information via e-mail and social media accounts. RFJ disseminates the appropriate tip information to other USG agencies.
Payment of Rewards
If the information provided by an informant results in a positive outcome, the U.S. investigative agency working on that case may decide to nominate the informant for a reward payment. Nominations for payment are reviewed by an interagency committee and then sent to the Secretary for a decision on whether to make a payment. Since the inception of the Rewards for Justice program in 1984, the United States Government has paid in excess of $200 million to more than 100 people who provided information that brought terrorists to justice, disrupted terrorist attacks or financing, or disrupted the financial mechanisms of those engaged in illegal activities to support the North Korean regime.
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