Dissecting the Data Leak that Undermined the Trucker Convoy

GoFundMe blocked all donations to the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser because “we now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.” This left the $10 million that was already raised on the site in limbo. At first, GoFundMe thought it would be a good idea to redirect this money into other charities, but that didn’t go over well with the donors. The outrage caused by this decision led to the site announcing that they would return the donations if the donors requested their money back in writing. But this also met with resistance. So, finally, on February 5th, GoFundMe announced that they would refund the money directly without any requests.

This debacle led to many in support of the convoy to turn to the Christian crowdfunding site, GiveSendGo, a site which one commentator described as, “a despicable company that has been raising money for the Proud Boys and other domestic terrorists, including the Kenosha Killer Kyle Rittenhouse.” This assessment was made when news broke that GiveSendGo was being blocked by PayPal in January of 2021; a time when right wing sites were being universally blocked or deplatformed in retaliation for the January 6th demonstrations in Washington D.C.

Since that time, GiveSendGo has been in the crosshairs of left wing activist groups. It should be no surprise, then, that it has been a target for continuous cyber attacks. Back in early 2021, it was announced that their database was compromised and the personal information of donors had been released. The site claimed it wasn’t hacked at all, and that opponents simply used publicly facing information to expose donors. Then the site was accused of doxing donors (releasing their personal information). This was also denied in the tweet below.

In my opinion, this wasn’t really a hack at all. The ‘hackers’ appear to have found the names of donors, which are often prominently displayed on the site, and then traced them down through normal search engine and social media investigations. This probably enabled them to get even more personal information which they called ‘a database leak.’ As database leaks go, this was about as small as you can get at only 15MB. Keep in mind that this was long before the recent trucker convoy controversy.

Let me give an example of how this was done and could still be done unless GiveSendGo changes its format. I chose a husband and wife donation for the Trucker Freedom Convoy because it would narrow down my search criteria. After all, how many other couples would have the same first names and the same uncommon last name? So, after a quick search I found multiple photographs of them. I know their business and where it’s located. I know where they are from. I know where the husband’s mother and grandmother were born and where they worked. I have their phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and Facebook pages, along with other social media pages. But then came the real kicker. I found that the couple had already been unmasked because the recent GiveSendGo leak exposed them and their large donation to the trucker convoy. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) the couple sent a letter to them explaining their reasons for their large donation.  They decided to release a letter because, after the information from GiveSendGo was leaked, they received so many calls from media that they couldn’t answer them all. There is even a YouTube video about them. Nonetheless, I will not add to any of their misery by giving their names here because my purpose was only to show that I could have gotten all of this information without the leak. This was not an isolated incident and I am quite sure I could even trace some donors down through the phrases used in their comments.

Several data dumps from GiveSendGo appeared on the Distributed Denial of Secrets site within the last week. Whether a member of this site was involved in the hack is possible and some commentators have made this insinuation. However, another infamous hacker, Aubrey Cottle, has claimed responsibility for the hack. In a video rant, he admits to a number of other hacks as well.

By the way, I hope he gets help for his mental challenges.

I would say that the claim is most likely true. In this case, the Distributive Denial of Secrets site is being used as his marketing arm. The site claims to want to protect the identity of people exposed by this hack so they will only release it to news organizations or researchers. As a researcher, I requested this information but never received it. That really was no problem because it was released on other dump sites. But who dumped it? In the opinion of many associated with leaked information, the leak of the personal information of people who donated to the truck convoy was made by someone from the Distributed Denial of Secrets site, though it could easily have been dumped by someone they gave the data to and they only give this information to left-leaning media or researchers. In this case, they really were the distributor of secrets.

But why would this website do this? Because they are a left wing activist site, not a leak site. More precisely, they are a left wing activist site that happens to host leaks of right wing information. No one doubts this. A quick look at the leaks they host shows a wide majority of right wing groups that they have exposed. There are no databases of extreme left wing group members on this site. Antifa or BLM members will never be exposed There is probably a reason for this. If you look at the information about some of their staff, you can probably see why.

This is information that they freely give out. It would not be a wild speculation to imagine that they have an agenda and that that agenda is to cause trouble for right wing groups that don’t support their personal beliefs. Why, then, wouldn’t they leak this data directly or indirectly?

And it’s not that I think GiveSendGo is anything special. They appear to be pandering to a specific group, namely, Christian conservatives. As they say on their site,

Well, maybe. But then we see that,

If you try to make a donation, a certain amount is automatically added to the donation.

The ‘option’ suggested will always be 10% of your donation.  You can get around this by choosing ‘Other’ and entering 0. There is no way to avoid the processing fee, however.

All of this bickering on both sides would be meaningless if the data released was not being used to block Canadian citizens from using their bank accounts. Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, equated the convoy with a terrorist group which enabled him to invoke the Emergencies Act. According to the New York Times, this will enable the Canadian government to “control the online crowdfunding platforms that have helped finance the protests. Credit card processors and fund-raising services will be required to report any blockade-related campaigns to Canada’s anti-money laundering agency.”

And how will they get the names of individual donors? You guessed it. And when they get these names the Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland, said at a news conference that banks would be able freeze personal accounts of anyone linked with the protests without any need for a court order. And it appears that this is exactly what they are doing.

The leaked database contains names, email addresses, zip codes, and messages. No credit card information was leaked. Some businesses used their names and some people used their business email addresses. Will the Canadian government block bank access to these businesses as well? Some people used their government email addresses, both U.S. and Canadian. Will any of these people be losing their jobs because of this leak? It wouldn’t surprise anyone. The information can also serve as a boon to hackers. Any email address connected to a company can give access to hackers so companies take note and be sure of your endpoint protection.

In effect, those who leaked the information have given the Canadian government a hit list. That may make the leakers happy because it supports their left wing agenda. But would they feel the same if Antifa or BLM members had their bank accounts blocked and lost their jobs? The problem on both sides is their failure to see that the actions of the Canadian government are based on the underlying principle that demonstrations are only allowable if they match the leanings of the prevailing government. That is not freedom of speech. For as Harry S. Truman once noted, “once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

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