A scam artist named James Kyle Bell has been hit with a federal charge of wire fraud after bilking Trump supporters out of a quarter of a million dollars through a fraudulent fundraising operation that had no actual connections to the Republican Party or Trump campaign. The fundraising operation was the work of a super PAC known as the Keep America Great Committee, which Bell founded and which never transmitted any money to any other group. Bell was enriching himself.
Bell also scammed supporters of Joe Biden out of some $100,000 through a similarly fraudulent fundraising operation under another super PAC that he founded called the Best Days Lie Ahead Committee. For his scam operation targeting Trump supporters, Bell reproduced messages from legitimate pro-Trump sources, and he even included the Trump re-election campaign’s official logo, cultivating an air of false credibility. Bell promised to provide matching funds for donations from Trump supporters, thereby growing their impact, but these funds never materialized.
Recently, The New York Times outlined how the Trump campaign itself engaged in a scam operation, although their fundraising practices don’t appear to have risen to the level of criminality. The campaign employed pre-checked boxes on its fundraising forms that, if left as is, set up additional recurring donations beyond the donor’s originally intended contribution. By October, these pre-checked boxes had eight or nine lines of text before the notice of what the boxes would actually do. Fraud claims associated with unexpected recurring charges from the Trump campaign soared, and Trump’s team refunded tens of millions of dollars to donors.
As part of a recent squabble with the Republican National Committee, Trump implored his followers to send their donations to his political action committee, which has raised huge sums of cash in the wake of his election loss. Much of this money came in under the pretense of Trump’s fight against the election outcome — but a lot of it never went anywhere near a court struggle. Instead, lots of the donations went to (among other things) cover those fraud claims from the earlier Trump donors!