Trump fans scammed out of $1 million by 25-year-old Maryland man

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Dinner With Trump Scam

In the age of the Super PAC, read the fine print before you donate money to a political candidate. Take, for example, this innocuous-looking screenshot from a page offering donors the chance to have dinner with Donald Trump. How could you possibly guess that the organization behind the page has nothing to do with the candidate—and will certainly not land you dinner with him?

Politico first reported on the page, which "is a scheme run by Ian Hawes, a 25-year-old Maryland man who has no affiliation with Trump or his campaign and who has preyed on more than 20,000 unsuspecting donors, collecting more than $1 million in the process." The fine print of the page—which 21,000 donors likely didn't read—makes it clear that the winning trip is not for an actual dinner with Trump, but for a trip to attend a "Donald Trump fundraising event with other attendees."

Hawes accomplished the scheme with a bit of online manipulation. He formed a PAC, and over the course of a few weeks, spent over $108,000 on Facebook ads to advertise a dinner with Trump. It brought in around $350,000 in donations. $133,000 of the money raised went to a company Hawes owns called CarSoft LLC. Hawes has also set up a site crookedhillary2016.org that looks intended to confuse people with Trump's official LyingCrookedHillary.com site.

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Two guys pretending to be construction workers just placed this in Union square like 5 minutes ago. YAS! The plaque reads "The Emperor has no balls." #genius #trump
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 18: A passerby has a picture taken with a statue depicting republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the nude on August 18, 2016 in San Francisco, United States. Anarchist collective INDECLINE has created five statues depicting Donald Trump in the nude and placed them in five U.S. cities on Thursday morning. The statues are in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: A molded foot is all that remains of a statue of naked GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump that appeared in Union Square Park this morning on August 18, 2016 in New York City. The illegally placed statue drew hundreds of curious onlookers, who took selfie picture with the statue, which was signed 'Ginger.' A published report attributed the work to the anarchist collective INDECLINE, which titled the project 'The Emperor Has No B--s.' (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Park authorities haul away a statue of a naked GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump that appeared in Union Square Park this morning on August 18, 2016 in New York City. The illegally placed statue drew hundreds of curious onlookers, who took selfie picture with the statue, which was signed 'Ginger.' A published report attributed the work to the anarchist collective INDECLINE, which titled the project 'The Emperor Has No B--s.' (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Park authorities haul away a statue of a naked GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump that appeared in Union Square Park this morning on August 18, 2016 in New York City. The illegally placed statue drew hundreds of curious onlookers, who took selfie picture with the statue, which was signed 'Ginger.' A published report attributed the work to the anarchist collective INDECLINE, which titled the project 'The Emperor Has No B--s.' (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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This is not the first time that copycat PACs have siphoned money from donors, but that didn't lessen the sting for those taken in by the scam. A donor from California named Jamie Boro told the Politico, "I thought it was very deceiving. I was very upset." Hawes did say he would refund people who felt scammed, and said that 110 refunds had been processed so far.

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Fittingly, Trump's lack of a digital operation is cited as part of the reason for Hewes' scamming success: "Hawes took advantage of a vacuum left by a skeletal Trump operation that had failed to activate supporters online and protect its digital turf; Hawes noted he bought Facebook ads and solicited money via email before Trump ever did, and created the dinner contest first."

The post This Clever 25-Year-Old Scammed $1 Million From Trump Fans appeared first on Vocativ.

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