Investigation has revealed that former US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign allegedly tricked supporters into making recurring donations.
This comes after The New York Times reviewed the Federal Election Commission’s filings from election campaigns, along with bank accounts and donation-processing sites they used.
The influential newspaper also talked to dozens of Trump supporters and donors, as well as campaign officials and campaign finance experts.
In an article published on Saturday, NYT claim the Trump campaign swindled donors to “keep Donald Trump’s struggling campaign afloat”.
The investigation found the campaign had added a pre-ticked box to the online donation form.
“Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election. Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt-out,” the Times reported.
“As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque. It introduced a second pre-checked box, known internally as a ‘money bomb’, that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually, its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language.”
The New York Times reported banks and credit card companies were inundated with complaints of fraud as supporters realised the mistake.
Ultimately, the campaign was forced to issue about US$120 million ($173 million) worth of refunds, although by then, the money had already served its purpose – basically an interest-free loan.
The campaign has yet to respond to the damning claim.