What you need to know about political fundraising scams
Election fever is now at an all-time high — and so are election scams. From schemes that steal your vote to ones promising dream (albeit, bogus) vacations in exchange for participation in a poll or survey, there’s no shortage of scams centering on elections.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning of an uptick in political fundraising scams in which thieves collect donations allegedly going toward a candidate’s campaign, or to a specific cause.
How the scams play out
In a political fundraising scam, the victim receives a call from someone claiming to be collecting money for a political candidate or cause. The caller is aggressive and demanding until the victim agrees to make a donation. They will also insist on immediate payment. The victim, not recognizing the scam, willingly donates money — which goes directly into the scammer’s pockets.
In another variation of this scam, the victim is targeted by a bogus online ad or email. After clicking on the ad or embedded link in the email, the victim is directed to donate funds. Here, too, the money goes directly to the scammer.
If you notice any of these warning signs in political communication, you can be sure it’s a scam.
- Fundraising email has grammatical errors and spelling mistakes
- Caller urges voter to make an immediate donation
- Caller or email insists on payment by specific means, such as wire transfer or prepaid debit card
- Email is sent from an insecure domain
- Email is sent from a domain that does not have a legitimate online presence
Here’s what to do if you’d like to donate to your candidate or a political group
- Donate directly on the candidate or cause’s official website.
- Never make a donation on a website that has an insecure address.
- Be cautious of phone solicitations for donations.
- Research any cause you’d like to donate to by researching FEC.gov or the Center for Responsive Politics.
- Don’t donate to a cause that does not ask for your citizenship status.
- When donating funds, it’s best to use a credit card.
Report scams when you see them
If you believe you’ve spotted a political fundraising scam, it’s important to report it to the appropriate authorities. The FBI urges all citizens to report any election scams to a local FBI field office as soon as possible.
If appropriate, you can also utilize any in-platform tools provided by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be disseminating false or inconsistent information about voting and elections.
Finally, it’s best to warn your friends about the circulating scam so they don’t fall victim to it themselves.