Donald Trump raised $250 million off his election lies, according to the House select committee, and a new analysis showed he used tactics commonly associated with scammers to rake in money -- mostly from retirees.
The committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection found the former president had raised a quarter of a billion dollars for the “Official Election Defense Fund,” which does not seem to exist, and a new analysis by Gizmodo examined the barrage of emails -- almost seven a day between the election and the U.S. Capitol riot.
"What we’ve found is that the ex-president has a penchant for the kinds of sales tactics more commonly associated with subprime mortgage loans, odometer-rolling used car salesmen, and shady internet businesses that rely on duping unsophisticated customers," the analysts wrote.
The emails frequently tried to make supporters feel like they had been individually targeted -- "This offer is meant for YOU, Friend, and is not intended to be shared," reads one, while another claims, "HE CHOSE YOU" -- although the emails had been sent to literally millions of other recipients.
The Jan. 6 committee's senior investigative counsel Amanda Wick said much of the cash was funneled into a political action committee that made donations to pro-Trump organizations.
"As early as April 2020, Mr Trump claimed that the only way he could lose an election would be as a result of fraud," Democratic panel member Zoe Lofgren said.
"The big lie was also a big rip-off," she said, promising to show how the Trump campaign raised hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters who were falsely led to believe their donations would be used for the legal fight over fraud claims.
All but one of the 62 lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign were dismissed -- the vast majority by Republican-appointed judges -- while the one that was upheld didn't affect the outcome.
"It’s not the gravest of crimes, and its one that other politicians are guilty of as well, but it is a tactic considered to be a warning sign of scam," Gizmodo reported. "Don’t take it from me, ask the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican and Trump devotee. He warns of this specific tactic on his website under the heading: 'How to Spot and Report Mail Scams.' On a list of common warning signs, claims that 'you have been specially selected,' is number one."
The fundraisers also mimic a tactic commonly associated with phishing emails by asking supports to "reset" nonexistent passwords or implying that payment is required, while other emails are designed to make supporters think they had already placed an order for merchandise -- or suggest they must take immediate action before something bad happened.
"At least one of these emails has included a fake 'countdown' timer that’s meant to convince supporters they have mere minutes to send Trump money," Gizmodo reported. "The timer never actually reaches zero. It starts at 05:13 minutes, counts down to 04:39, and then restarts at 05:13. Ingenious."
With additional reporting by AFP
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