I have a confession to make. I was a huge fan of the CBS reality show Big Brother when it first came out. (I still watch it sometimes now, though not every season.) In the early days of the series the network offered an online “extras” feature where you could sign up to have web access to some cameras in the house during non-show hours, interviews with cast and family members and other content. It cost a small amount per month, though I don’t remember the exact fee. When the show ended, I cancelled the service and thought no more of it. But a few months later those same charges began showing up on my credit card again. I had to call nearly a dozen times and reject charges to the card each time before it finally stopped, a process which took more than a year. This week we learned of a new group of people who are having a very similar problem… Hillary Clinton’s donors. (The Observer)
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is stealing from her poorest supporters by purposefully and repeatedly overcharging them after they make what’s supposed to be a one-time small donation through her official campaign website, multiple sources tell the Observer.
The overcharges are occurring so often that the fraud department at one of the nation’s biggest banks receives up to 100 phone calls a day from Clinton’s small donors asking for refunds for unauthorized charges to their bankcards made by Clinton’s campaign. One elderly Clinton donor, who has been a victim of this fraud scheme, has filed a complaint with her state’s attorney general and a representative from the office told her that they had forwarded her case to the Federal Election Commission.
Is this intentional or just some sort of “computer glitch” on the part of the Clinton campaign? That’s the beauty of a set-up like this… it’s almost impossible to tell and the amounts are so low that law enforcement usually won’t be expending much in the way of resources going after it. As long as you apologize to the consumer after they complain and cancel the charge, nobody is really the wiser and the matter is brushed under the rug. But that’s only for the people who actually notice and file a complaint. How many people use their credit cards for many of their monthly expenses and get pages long statements with lots of charges listed? If the original contribution was $25 (as was the case with the victim highlighted in the linked article) there are probably plenty of people in that category who won’t even notice and just pay their bill.
Each person who doesn’t catch the “error” and file a complaint represents one more contribution in the campaign coffers and another statistic to brag about. “Look at our grassroots support from all of these small dollar donors!” It’s a pretty good scam if you can get away with it.
That’s not to say that the Clinton campaign is definitely doing it intentionally. We’re routinely told that mistakes can and will happen in e-commerce transactions. But it’s 2016. How long have we been handling credit card transactions over the web now? You’d think most of those bugs would have been worked out of the system by now. But just to be safe, if you did happen to donate to Clinton in this fashion you might want to go check your last statement. Hillary might be getting more than you thought you were paying.