Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Dubious Donations"

Scott W. Johnson: [An enterprising citizen] went to the Obama campaign Web site and made a donation under the name "John Galt" (the hero of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged"). He provided the equally fictitious address "1957 Ayn Rand Lane, Galts Gulch, CO 99999."

He checked the box next to $15 and entered his actual credit-card number and expiration date. He was then taken to the next page and notified that his donation had been processed.

He then tried the same experiment on the McCain site, which rejected the transaction. He returned to the Obama site and made three more donations using the names Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Bill Ayers, all with different addresses but the same credit card. The transactions all went through. By Saturday, he'd reported that the transactions had all posted to his credit-card account.

Others repeated "John Galt's" experiment last week, giving to Obama under such fictitious names as Della Ware, Joe Plumber, Idiot Savant, Ima BadDonation (with a Canadian bank card) and Fake Donor.

What accounts for the Obama campaign's acceptance of these fraudulent donations? Most merchants selling goods and services use the basic Address Verification System that screens credit-card charges for matching names and addresses. (It can also screen cards issued by foreign banks.) The McCain campaign uses AVS and provides a searchable database of all donors, including those who fall below the $200 threshold. The Obama campaign apparently has chosen not to use the AVS system to screen donations.



Read the whole thing.

If the Obama campaign were at all serious about preventing illegal contributions to its campaign, it should, at a minimum, simply make sure that the zip code provided by the donor really exists (something credit card companies do everytime you purchase something online), and that the zip code matches the state, don't you think?

Something tells me we'd be hearing alot more about this if the shoe was on the other foot.

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