LOOTERS of Egypt's antiquities are using social media to seek out professional Egyptologists, and others with knowledge of Egypt's past, to better loot archaeological sites and sell antiquities.
This is not new, as the two 2014 photos of ANTINOOPOLIS LOOTING on this page prove.
Looting of archaeological sites has increased rapidly in the country since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, sometimes resulting in the death of children who are forced to work in narrow tunnels.
In the past few weeks, five people have died while trying to dig tunnels beneath houses; one of those killed was an 11-year-old boy, Egyptian media reports say.
We broke the story several weeks ago about CHILD LOOTERS DYING.
One reason looting may be more compelling is that inflation in Egypt is at more than 30 percent, making it difficult for Egyptians to buy food and medicine, several experts said.
Inflation increased rapidly after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that in exchange for a loan the Egyptian government would have to float the Egyptian pound (the country’s currency) on the free market, rather than having the government set its value.
The IMF believes that in the long term, floating the Egyptian pound will boost Egypt's exports and grow Egypt's economy, Chris Jarvis, the IMF mission chief for Egypt, said in a news briefing about the loan terms.
Live Science talked to several Egyptologists about their experiences. All the Egyptologists said it is against professional standards to assist or help looters in any form.
Encounters with looters selling antiquities are common among Egyptologists who are on social media, said MONICA HANNA, an Egyptologist who conducts research on the looting and trafficking of Egypt's antiquities extensively.
Looters usually contact Egyptologists using social media or email, Hanna told Live Science.
Hanna said that she is aware of a few cases where professional archaeologists decided to breach ethics and assist looters.
"I know of several incidents that archaeologists helped looters or worked for collectors to value and authenticate objects," Hanna said.