Investigators at Frost Bank discovered that the stolen cards were being used to make $5 contributions to the Ron Paul presidential campaign, in an apparent attempt to test the cards, as previously posted on this blog. Frost Bank refunded money from nearly 100 customers and canceled all 500 of the credit cards that had been stolen from the bank. The Paul campaign has told news sources it has refunded all stolen funds back to the bank from the stolen cards, which amount to about $3,000, considerably more than the figure of $60.00 originally being tossed around and flippantly dismissed by Paul supporters.
Kerri Price, assistant director of communications for the Paul campaign, noted that the donations from the stolen cards represent “a very small percentage of money that was brought in.” She also stated that, “We don’t know anything about the criminals that did this.”
In fact…no one does.
The tactic of ‘test charging’ used by these criminals as confirmed by investigators, is a fairly common tactic among identity thieves, also previously noted on this blog.
Another Ron Paul spokesman, Jesse Benton, emphasized, “Ron Paul does not have anything to do with this.”
This is clearly the case, now that all facts have been presented and confirmed.
As I indicated in my last post and several times in the comment thread – no one ever accused Ron Paul or his campaign of being thieves. That is simply foolish. No serious presidential campaign would ever engage in such activity. But the question put forth in my last post on this issue still remains…who are these people and are any of them possibly inside or close to the Paul campaign? No one is explicitly or implicitly saying they are, but the question does need asking. Were they just fanatical, misguided supporters? Grass roots campaigns are virtually impossible to police, and as of today, no one knows how these thieves got these numbers, where they got them from, or why they were used to donate funds to Ron Paul. The Paul campaign claims they know nothing about these criminals, and I tend to believe them, but others aren’t so easily convinced.
One of the Frost Bank customers, Christine Horton, who had her I.D. stolen is quoted as saying, “He’s getting money, stolen money…Whether he’s affiliated with it or not, I have no clue. But it’s too fishy.”
Horton’s suspicion may be relevant.
Why steal credit card information and donate it to Ron Paul’s campaign? Is the status quo, pro big-government establishment, or perhaps another campaign, as suggested in the comment thread by Paul supporters, willing to commit fraud and be jailed for a felony simply to discredit Ron Paul – using stolen credit cards to do it? Is the anti-Ron Paul element that dedicated to pushing Ron Paul down by any means possible? Maybe so, but the whole ordeal seems odd to me.
Maybe the issue here is simply people not paying attention as usual. How many of the tens of thousands of donors actually check the URL carefully for accuracy before providing their credit card information to the Ron Paul campaign? Were these people duped into visiting a ‘phishing’ site by criminals and that is how their numbers were stolen? Do they have a person inside Frost bank? What assurance do any donors have that the Ron Paul campaign or any other presidential campaign for that matter, does not store credit card information in a database on someone’s laptop that could be stolen at anytime?
While the paul campaign has one of the most comprehensive privacy policies of any campaign and does scan its donation site with Hackersafe to ensure there are no intrusions, these aforementioned scenarios are all valid and open to discussion.
People must realize that presidential campaigns, and if you have ever worked on one you would know, are pretty loose knit operations. For instance, presidential campaigns are not subject to the same rigid credit card security regulations that online retailers like Wal-Mart.com or Borders.com are subject to. Those businesses must carry a substantial credit card security yoke to remain industry compliant. A political campaign site? Not so much. In fairness to the Paul campaign, this is not the first and certainly will not be the last incident of this kind in the world of political campaign contributions.
I only hope that the Ron Paul crowd knows what they are doing. That originally reported $60.00 that Ron Paul supporters were casually dismissing just days ago, morphed into $3000.00 pretty quickly, and could have evolved into something much larger still, given the right set of circumstances.
I remain steadfast in my advice. Be careful when donating to Ron Paul or any political campaign when using a credit card. PayPal, pre-paid debit cards, and money orders are valid and safer alternatives.
“I told them this doesn’t make any sense, because this isn’t a credit card, it’s a check card, and I’ve got plenty of money in there, so what’s the problem?” Ruffino said.
A customer service representative for her bank informed her of a suspicious charge.
The bank representative explained that someone by the name of Ron Paul has been trying to take $5 out of the aforementioned account.
Identity theft usually works this way: Thieves gather up stolen credit card numbers online and run the test charges to see which numbers will work. If the charge goes through, they know they have an active card. Later, the hit the card for more money. It appears that is what happened here.
Representatives for the Ron Paul campaign said they have discovered more than a dozen mysterious $5 contributions in the past three days and said they’re working with banks to return the money.
A representative for the Texas Attorney General’s Office on Friday said these crimes are rarely prosecuted, because by the time thieves are tracked down, they’re often in other counties, and the Web sites are shut down.
We know that there have been campaign contribution improprieties in other campaigns, but those incidents usually involved one large donor. This situation suggests that the Ron Paul campaign cannot be trusted with credit card security or donations from small donors, and appears to be the first time this issue has come up in any political campaign among any of the current presidential candidates.
In the mean time, you may want to think twice before giving your credit card information to the Ron Paul campaign.