Conservatives Targeted for Midterm Election Scams

I’m not sure why conservatives seem to be better scam targets than liberals. Perhaps, the older, white, male stereotype gives scammers the impression that they have more money than poor liberals. It could also be that they target older voters because they see them as being less tech savvy and easier to victimize. Liberals are also victimized, but they are usually victimized by appealing to their  sense of social justice.

The main election scam that is making the rounds these days tries to get your money through questionable or downright fraudulent fundraising efforts. The questionable fundraisers, posing as legitimate political action committees (PACs), try to mask their outright thievery under names that will get emotional reactions from conservatives. Here are a few names of these seedy PACs that will try to elicit money from unsuspecting conservatives: Americans for Police and Trooper Safety; Association for Emergency Responders and Firefighters PAC, Inc.; Cops and Kids Together; Standing by Veterans PAC, Inc.; and US Veterans Assistance Foundation. Sure, Democrats may also feel some empathy for these groups, but the groups are normally branded as Republican PACs.

Strangely, most of these PACs have not been shut down. Why? Because PACs don’t have to meet the high standards that a charity does. Had these same organizations been registered as charities, they would have been shut down a long time ago. In the case of PACs, if some money finally finds its way to a political organization, then it lives up to its billing. True, most of the money goes into the coffers of the administrators, but, hey, how can we tell how much it cost to set up the organization, right? In one case, a group of these PACs raised $5.9 million of which $5 million was spent on “operating expenses” and nothing went to candidates. Here’s the breakdown of the spending of these PACs from Politico based on Federal Election Commission statistics.

pac spending

Notice how all of the money goes to the same address.

Then there are the scams that seem to be promoting celebrities or well-known conservatives for political office, even though the people being promoted have no desire to run for office. Among these being falsely supported are the popular, straight-talking, Sheriff David Clarke.

sheriff clarke

Whether he likes it or not, an official PAC, The Bold Conservatives PAC, has formed in support of drafting him as a candidate for the Wisconsin senate seat. Clarke, himself, has referred to the organization as a “scam PAC”.

Then why doesn’t law enforcement put a stop to it? The answer is that it has been legally registered as a PAC.

clarke pac

As such, it is difficult to stop its operation and, according to federal documents, the Bold Conservatives PAC has raised, to date, about $3 million, with most of it going into the hazy area of ‘fundraising’.

pac graph

And who receives most of this fundraising money? Apparently, Jack W. Daly, the organizer of the PAC, and a person with a shady background. Daly once tried to recruit a homeless man to run for a Democratic office since the man had a name that was similar to another Democratic candidate; a candidate Daly was running against. Daly hoped the confusion would divide the vote and give him an edge.

Recently, two Arizona brothers were arrested for bilking unsuspected donors out of $23 million by pretending to be legitimate PACs for popular conservative causes (law enforcement, abortion, national defense). The Tierney brothers directed much of the money they received through shell companies that they also set up to hide their activities. Thus, the Tierneys made payments and donations to themselves.

Then there’s Scott B. Mackenzie. Mackenzie is listed as the treasurer for a large number of suspicious PACs. Here is information from one source which shows those PACs and the amount they have donated to candidates.  Yes, that’s right. No money was ever donated to candidates.

mackenzie pac

In other words, be suspicious if one of these organizations contacts you. No matter how appealing the name may sound, it’s better to check them out before writing them a check.

The Better Business Bureau is now warning of two other political scams in addition to the one’s mentioned. One masks as a poll and is often conducted by phone. The caller says they are polling you about an upcoming election and promises you some reward, such as a gift card, for your help. The questions appear to be legitimate. After the questions, they will ask for personal information so as to send you the gift card. They often ask for your credit card number to pay for the shipping of your prize.

The other is a bit more disturbing. The call appears to come from the candidate themselves, maybe even from President Trump. Wow, you’d think he’d have better things to do than to call you for a donation but… Apparently, the scammers are making use of the latest voice emulation technology to produce a conversation that is very difficult to tell from the real thing. (see my post on voice emulation ) After the candidate talks to you, they will ask you to push a button to talk to a representative. The representative will then ask for your personal details. In both scams, the person will aggressively push you for details and immediate donations. They don’t want to give you time to research the PAC they purportedly represent.

For demographic reasons, some legitimate pollsters may ask for your political affiliation, race, age, or religion. They will never ask for your credit card number or social security number. Remember, you have the right not to be bothered, and you can hang up at any time. Don’t be pressured into giving information you don’t want to give. No one will give you a prize for answering poll questions.

In past elections, victims were scammed by phone or email to register or re-register to vote. Often, the excuse given will be something concerning redistricting. Again, the purpose is to get your personal information. And one more trick that fooled some people during the last election; you are told you can vote by phone if you just give some personal information. No, you cannot vote by phone, and, no, there is no online voting like that indicated in this fake ad from the last election.

hillary fake

So, if you are interested in supporting your chosen candidate or party, donate to them directly. Will they use your money wisely? Look at it this way. Achieve your satisfaction from the fact you’ve demonstrated a sincere interest in a cause or candidate. Don’t ask too many questions about where your money goes.

About Steve Mierzejewski

Marketing consultant for InZero Systems, developer of the next generation in hardware-separated security, WorkPlay Technologies, TrustWall and Mobile bare-metal virtualization. I've worked in Poland, Japan, Korea, China, and Afghanistan. I'm a writer, technical editor, and an educator.
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