43% of Congress Vulnerable to Campaign Donation Fraud
The Government Accountability Institute, comprised of a team of investigative researchers and journalists, have published a report titled America the Vulnerable: Are Foreign and Fraudulent Online Campaign Contributions Influencing U.S. Elections?
The report states that an alarming number of congressional and senatorial representatives with an online donation page do not have proper security on those sites to prevent donations to their campaigns from foreign sources. The report also found third-party political fundraising organizations funneling money to campaigns also lacked the industry standard, anti-fraud, credit card security features to block fraudulent and international donations.
The report was not partisan in its reproach.
Both parties and specific candidates were named as having more problems than others, including Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, and Barack Obama. However, the Obama campaign does show a much higher rate of vulnerability than that of his counterpart Mitt Romney.
Given the state-of-the art digital sophistication of the President’s re-election campaign—including social media, micro-targeting and data-mining—its online donation system contains at least three major security vulnerabilities:
1. THE ABSENCE OF THE INDUSTRY-STANDARD CVV AND UNKNOWN USE OF AVS ANTI-FRAUD SECURITY FOR ONLINE CREDIT CARD DONATIONS.
2. THE PRESENCE OF A BRANDED, MAJOR THIRD PARTY-OWNED WEBSITE (OBAMA.COM) REDIRECTS ITS 68% FOREIGN TRAFFIC TO A CAMPAIGN DONATION PAGE.
3. ACTIVE FOREIGN SOLICITATION USING INDISCRIMINATE EMAIL SOLICITATIONS AND EXPOSURE TO SOCIAL MEDIA.
The Obama campaign lacks the industry-standard level of credit card security for donations, but uses it for merchandise purchases: to purchase Obama campaign merchandise, the campaign requires buyers to enter their credit card CVV security code, but does not require the credit card security code to be entered when making an online campaign donation. By Gai’s estimates, the Obama campaign’s failure to utilize industry-standard protections potentially costs the campaign millions in extra processing fees.
Obama.com was purchased by an Obama bundler in Shanghai, China with questionable business ties to state-run Chinese enterprises: in 2008, Obama.com was purchased by an Obama fundraiser living in Shanghai, China, whose business is heavily dependent on relationships with Chinese state-run television and other state-owned entities.
68% of traffic to anonymously registered Obama.com is foreign (compared to just over 11% for the Romney website): according to industry leading web analytics site markosweb, an anonymously registered redirect site (Obama.com) features 68% foreign traffic. Starting in December 2011, the site was linked to a specific donation page on the official barackobama.com campaign website for ten months. The page loaded a tracking number, 634930, into a space on the website labeled “who encouraged you to make this donation.” that tracking number is embedded in the source code for Obama.com and is associated with the Obama victory fund. in early September 2012, the page began redirecting to the standard Obama victory fund donation page.
- Obama bundler tied to Chinese government? (hotair.com)
- Hypocrisy on Those Foreign Campaign Contributions (nationalreview.com)
- Hope and shady campaign change: Buzz builds about Obama camp’s donor scandal; Update: Breaking news on potential for illicit foreign donations (twitchy.com)