There's a story today in the Daily Beast, of all places regarding the Obama campaigns' possible use of illegal and fraudulent donations.
The idea, of course, is to evade campaign finance regulations on contribution limits, fake donors and illegal foreign contributions. And the Obama campaign did exactly the same thing in 2008.
Here's how it works.
VISA, MasterCard and most other credit cards have built-in default software that match credit card numbers to names and addresses (known as the Address Verification System or AVS) that are part of the vendor set up that allow credit cards to be accepted as payment.You use that same software at the gas pump or the supermarket.
However, if you have a savvy computer pro disable that software ( and it would need to be done deliberately, since it's inherent in the system) things open up quite nicely.
You can accept hundreds of robo-donations from one pre-paid card with the same account number but with different names and addresses, all under the $200 reporting limit. And they can be from anywhere. In other words, an organization like MoveOn or Think Progress could run multiple under the limit transactions with one card and any number of aliases and fake addresses owned by, say, George Soros or another well fixed donor.
As the Daily Beast Article relates, you can even fraudulently tap real accounts:
According to an October 2008 Washington Post article, Mary Biskup of Missouri appeared to give more than $170,000 in small donations to the 2008 Obama campaign. Yet Biskup said she never gave any money to the campaign. Some other contributor gave the donations using her name, without her knowledge. (The Obama campaign explained to the Post that it caught the donations and returned them.)
After the election, of course. But there were likely plenty of others that weren't caught.
Go to the Mitt Romney campaign site and try to donate $20 on your credit card with the wrong name and address and it spits it right back at you. Do the same thing at the Obama site and it will accept it. That's how it works.
Another thing the Daily Beast article noted was that the Obama Campaign is not making use of the 3 and 4 digit security codes on cards, known as the CVV or CVV2 ( card verification value system) found on the back of your cards:
This makes it all the more surprising that the Obama campaign does not use a standard security tool, the card verification value (CVV) system—the three- or four-digit number often imprinted on the back of a credit card, whose purpose is to verify that the person executing the purchase (or, in this case, donation) physically possesses the card. The Romney campaign, by contrast, does use the CVV—as has almost every other candidate who has run for president in recent years, from Hillary Clinton in 2008 to Ron Paul this year.
The Obama campaign's excuse for this is that the CVV can 'intimidate small donors', although they require it if you want to buy an Obama hoodie or the rest of their schlock merchandise.
Want to know the real reason the Obama Campaign likely doesn't require the CVV for donations?
It's because many foreign credit cards do not have CVV codes. Requiring them would limit foreign donations, if, let's say, you weren't too choosy about the law and wanted to accept them.
In September the Obama campaign brought in its biggest fundraising haul—$181 million. Nearly all of that amount (98 percent) came from small donations, through 1.8 million transactions. The average size of the transaction? $53.
Even worse is that the reporting requirements are tailor made for this kind of fraud:
Candidates need only publicly report campaign contributions over $200. For donations between $50 and $200 (the average donation in Obama’s huge September haul was $53), candidates are simply required to make an effort to obtain accurate identifying information—information they aren’t required to report. And for donations under $50, regulations don’t even require campaigns to keep a record of identifying information.
According to the article, the Obama campaign claims that it stringently vets all donations. Yet they have deliberately disabled the major electronic tools used to prevent fraud.
In another interesting factoid, Breitbart reveals that the Obama.com website is not owned by the president’s campaign but rather by Obama bundler Robert Roche, a U.S. citizen living in Shanghai, China. His company, Acorn International, has ties to state-controlled banks that allow it to gain revenue through credit card transactions with Chinese banks. And there's more:
The unusual Obama.com website redirects traffic directly to a donation page on the Obama campaign’s official website, my.barackobama.com, which does not require donors to enter their credit card security code (known as the CVV code), thereby increasing the likelihood of foreign or fraudulent donations. The website is managed by a small web development firm, Wicked Global, in Maine. One of Wicked Global’s employees, Greg Dorr, lists on his LinkedIn page his additional employment with Peace Action Maine and Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights. According to the GAI report, 68 percent of all Internet traffic to Obama.com comes from foreign visitors.
In 2011, Mr. Roche obtained one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate in Washington, DC: a seat at the head table
for President Obama’s State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao. How
Roche—a man whose infomercial company hawks fitness equipment, cell
phones, and breast enhancement products—landed a seat alongside
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, Sen.
John Kerry, former President Jimmy Carter, and Chinese President Hu
Jintao remains unclear.
Since 2009, White House Visitor Logs list the name Robert Roche at least 19 times, despite the fact Mr. Roche’s primary residence is in China.
Mr. Roche, who is originally from Chicago, is a co-chair of the Technology Initiative for the Obama campaign.
Hmmm...a wealthy businessman with direct ties to the Chinese government and President Obama who owns the president's campaign finance website that has no electronic safeguards against fraud.
Sounds like a 21st century variation on the Riyadi Brothers and presidential candidate Bill Clinton, doesn't it?