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Dirty Tricks? Look-Alike Websites Lure Congressional Donors 157

Posted by timothy
from the this-way-to-the-egress dept.
First time accepted submitter AdamnSelene writes "Forbes reports on a National Republican Congressional Committee sanctioned campaign worthy of the NSA: fake candidate websites that use identical or similar pictures and color schemes to solicit donations to defeat the Democratic candidate. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the NRCC initially refused to refund the contribution from a Tampa Bay doctor who caught onto the scam, and he had to contact his credit card company to challenge the charges. The National Journal reports that the NRCC-sponsored effort may run afoul of Federal Election Commission regulations, though it expects that the bipartisan FEC will be toothless when it comes to enforcement. However, I have to wonder whether this is finally a good enough reason to use the DMCA and file take-down notices against the faux websites. Perhaps the candidates could solve this themselves, and get a judgement for copyright infringement so absurdly large that it puts the NRCC out of business?" Some sites along these lines might be dirtier than the ones here illustrated, which seem to fit pretty well into the broad world of snarky and cutting political ads; Dr. Ray Bellamy, the Tampa Bay donor mentioned above, intended to give money to candidate Alex Sink, but evidently didn't notice this line in bold print, just above the "Donate" button: "Make a contribution today to help defeat Alex Sink and candidates like her." Note that, as the Tampa Bay Times' article mentions, this kind of site isn't limited to Republicans, either.
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Dirty Tricks? Look-Alike Websites Lure Congressional Donors

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  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:43PM (#46196267) Homepage Journal

    The "jollyforcongress.com" site: (a) doesn't ask for money, (b) immediately redirects to a page that has "floridadems" in the URL, and (c) looks nothing like Jolly's actual campaign site [davidjolly.com]. So please stop pretending there's some kind of equivalence here. There isn't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @03:16PM (#46197441)

    How about phishing victims?

    Let's look at the original site in the screenshot because they have changed it since this story broke.

    http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/... [tampabay.com]

    1) It uses the exact same color scheme as the real site
    2) There is really just one word that reveals the true intention: "defeat" in large type that is under the main headline. Skim-reading could easily miss this word.
    3) If you miss that word, most all the other text on the site is written to be confusing and ambiguous. It doesn't say "Stop Alex Sink" it says "Alex Sink, Congress". Why do you think they did that?
    4)TFS is wrong, that word "defeat" is in a subtitle below the header and off to the right, nowhere near any button.

    Sure this guy was dumb, or maybe going to fast and not paying attention to who he was donating to. But the NRCC clearly intended it to be confused with the real site. This is no different than posting an Ebay phishing site. Dont be quick to judge when your mom or grandpa or some other person could have made the same mistake.

    Was this guy an idiot? Yes.
    Is the NRCC committing fraud? Yes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @03:31PM (#46197563)

    Also this is clearly intentional, systemic behavior:
    http://swampland.time.com/2014... [time.com]

    Look at the domain names and other sites, they are even more deceptive than this one. Still spottable? Sure.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @03:36PM (#46197611)

    Democrats have used fake websites, and their functionality depended on the purpose. Of course they have done more than that too, including running fake candidates.

    Dems who created fake Tea Party candidates arraigned in Michigan [nationalreview.com]

    Reid Campaign Targets Angle Supporters With Phishing Website [legalinsurrection.com]

    Harry Reid’s campaign, however, took the code from the prior Angle website and launched a website called “TheRealSharronAngle.com.” The fake website was what, in internet terminology, is called spoofing, where a seemingly real website is created, usually to obtain information under false pretenses (frequently referred to as “phishing”). ...

    But the reality is that by creating a spoofed website with the contact and volunteer functions operable, the Reid campaign sought to obtain personally identifiable information about Angle supporters. At a minimum, such information about Angle supporters would have been gathered under false pretenses.

    The phishing function also would have been disruptive to the Angle campaign because people who thought they had volunteered for the Angle campaign never would have been contacted to help out because they had, in fact, been tricked.

    Regardless of whether the Reid campaign’s spoofing and phishing attempt was criminal, it was sleazy.

    Is Reid Campaign Hiding Its Activities To Evade Campaign Finance Laws? [hotair.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:09PM (#46197807)

    They have changed it since the story broke (looks like they added more disclaimers). You need to go by the screenshots or try the wayback machine maybe.

    Also this isnt the only site: http://swampland.time.com/2014... [time.com] There are at least 15 others.

  • Re:Ah, politics (Score:4, Informative)

    by ItsJustAPseudonym (1259172) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @05:01PM (#46198141)
    Let's read that again. That quote, if the reader were a liberal, would NOT be perceived as a negative. She will need "loyal" foot soldiers, who can be counted on "95% of the time". It would sound pretty good to a Pelosi supporter.

    They are hoping to steal from the gullible, not to deal honestly. What's the word for that? Oh yeah, "dishonest". I further assert "fraudulent".

    The world has no need of bottom-feeding, dishonest frauds like those jackasses.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @05:55PM (#46198475)

    Funny how you didn't note that Reid's campaign turned off the donate function. And there is no evidence that Reid's fake site actually collected any PII. The author just assumed it did because the form submit button worked. As a slashdotter, you should know better than to accept that as proof. Terrible, untrustworthy links you got there too. Please learn to link to at least semi-neutral sources.

    Let's see what actually following your evidence of equivalency provides:

    1) First link, National Review. Terribly partisan but OK, will verify what it says. And truly looks like election fraud. Fair enough there were other sources on this incident -- many more recent ones too. The people responsible have been arrested, gone to trial and have been been sentenced. (Google is your friend). Regardless this is off-topic. You are comparing local election fraud to national. Local and national politics have little to do with each other and the national parties that local politicians identify with have no bearing to local issues. Doesn't matter if someone is pro choice or pro life when their job is to make sure the garbage is picked up and the roads are plowed when it snows. Or perhaps you were saying we should arrest the chairman of the NRCC? Sounds good.

    2) What the crap is this blog? The story says he didnt collect money, and has no proof of collecintg PII. No other sources. The story you link also shows technical ignorance about HTML forms. The site has a clear political slant (right in it's header).

    3 HotAir, what a waste. Many of the links go back to your second blog link. But at least HotAir links to Politico. Which, despite originally being started by the GOP, is good enough as a source.

    Politico states: http://www.politico.com/news/s... [politico.com]

    After she won the June 8 primary, Angle gave her actual website a well-publicized facelift and reworded many of her positions on issues including Social Security and Second Amendment rights — statements that as written might have aided Angle in the primary, but would likely be a liability in the general election.

    Funny. That actually sounds like what Reid's campaign was saying.

    Hall said the website did not have any mechanism to collect the e-mail addresses, adding: “If someone entered data, it did not go anywhere.”

    Oops.

    Let's check the score:

    Election fraud unrelated to fake websites: 1 (to be fair will give your this one)
    Democrat funded sites that collect information: 0
    Number of NRCC sites that actually collect information: 16
    Number of NRCC sites that actually collect donations: 16
    Number of on-topic and credible links you provided: 0/3

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