It’s 2008 all over again.
Back in 2008, some ne'er-do-wells in Eastern Europe saw how much Barack Obama was fundraising online and thought, "Here is a great opportunity to make some easy illegal money." They created copies of the Obama donation pages and hosted them on vague web addresses.
Then they drove traffic to the sites. Unsuspecting political donors contributed to what they thought was Obama for President, and their swindlers disappeared into the night with their pockets full of their ill-gotten loot. It’s unknown how many political donations were made to these "look-alike" web pages in 2008
But it’s happening again in 2012, and this time it’s legal. According to National Journal, a group named CAPE PAC is buying Google AdWords to lure potential donors to seemingly valid candidate websites. More than 3,000 political donors have been tricked into making contributions, valued at over $570,000, to these deceptive sites. But candidates won’t see a dime.
The PAC appears to be a valid political action committee, but their usage of funds is pretty sketchy according to the piece.
The take-away for all political campaigns: Make sure your donation page lives on your campaign's URL. It gives your donors the assurance they’re in the right place.
Also, don't be technologically intimidated. It’s easy to put a donation form on your own site. Simply use a tool like WidgetMakr, which makes creating fundraising pages as easy as posting a YouTube video.
The take-away for donors: Before you provide your credit card information, make sure the website you’re on is really your candidate's website. Check the donation page's URL and all the legalese at the bottom of the site. If anything looks fishy, you may want to go back to Google and perform a search of your candidate's name.
Erik currently runs sales and marketing for CMDI, the largest Republican fundraising technology platform. CMDI's innovations and tools have been used to raise and manage over $1.4 billion for Republican candidates and organizations in the 2012 cycle alone.