“A Scam”: New Report Details How Trump Campaign Bilked Millions From Supporters

The New York Times reveals deceptive tactics.

Mother Jones illustration; Getty, Michael Brochstein/Getty

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When Donald Trump’s campaign budget was largely tapped this fall, his staff resorted to deceptive online fundraising practices that tricked donors into signing up to make extra or recurring credit card payments.

According to a New York Times report, the strategies, which involved automatically checking boxes above language consenting to the donations buried below lines and lines of near gibberish, sparked a huge number of complaints, which helped push the campaign to refund an eye popping $64.3 million dollars. According to insiders interviewed by the Times in credit card fraud departments, complaints about unwanted and unexpected charges from Trump donors accounted for as much as 3% of all traffic for periods during the campaign—a stunning number when compared to the massive amount of non-political credit card transactions the companies process.  “It felt,” one victim tells the Times, “like it was a scam.”

From the New York Times.

The Trump campaign paid out many of those refunds after the November election, as new piles of cash were coming in, purportedly earmarked to fund legal battles related to his false claim that his reelection was stolen. As the Times reports, “the money that Mr. Trump eventually had to refund amounted to an interest-free loan from unwitting supporters at the most important juncture of the 2020 race.”

Since leaving office, Trump has kept his political money machine operational. Just last month he sent cease and desist letters to the Republican National Committee and other party arms demanding they stop using his name and likeness in fundraising, and told donors to instead give to a PAC he controls.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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