Eighty-year-old US 'web scam man' on the run after pocketing $250,000 in Dem 'donations'

Feds claim John Pierre Dupont created fundraising websites supposedly for Beto O'Rourke, others, then nicked the dosh


A man facing criminal charges for bilking US voters out of $250,000 by accepting donations for politicians, including Beto O'Rourke, is on the run.

John Pierre Dupont was due to appear in federal court in Manhattan back in March but failed to show, despite having posted $100,000 in bail. On Tuesday, federal authorities confirmed that he is officially considered a fugitive.

What makes Dupont's flight from justice more unusual is his age: he's 80 years old.

Age was seemingly no barrier to his website-building skills, though: the octogenarian, it is alleged, set up and ran no less than 15 websites that claimed to be accepting donations to political action committees (PACs) for several Democratic politicians, most notably Beto O'Rourke.

They included: Beto4Senate.org, SinemaForSenate.website (referring to Senator Krysten Sinema from Arizona), DemocratsForSenate.org and others featuring lesser known would-be politicians (BredesenForSenate.website, DonnellyForSenate.website, ManchinForSenate.website, and so on).

The Feds claimed Dupont was able to dupe more than 1,000 people to donate, via the websites, sums that ranged from $100 to $250, while using his previous name – John Gary Rinaldo – which he legally changed to Pierre Dupont in California in 2012.

Dupont kept up the pretense that the donation sites were real by sending a thank you messages to those that donated, Uncle Sam's prosecutors claim. But he crossed a legal line and got the Feds' attention when the thank-you message from Beto O'Rourke's fake site claimed to be from O'Rourke himself, court documents state.

How do you spell democart again?

Agents soon discovered a lot of sloppy work, it is alleged, including a misspelling of the word "Democrat" and the same quote attributed to different candidates on a range of different websites. The cops tracked Dupont down through his payment processors, and a large number of checks he deposited in a personal bank account.

Thief with bag

Criminal mastermind signed name as 'Thief' on receipts after buying stuff with stolen card

READ MORE

Dupont allegedly switched to taking cash and checks after complaining that he was being ripped off by payment processors taking 40 per cent of donations. The gathered evidence resulted in a case brought against him [PDF] alleging fraud and identity theft.

He was collared in Arizona in March, with US Attorney Geoffrey Berman noting at the time that Dupont had "falsely claimed to be raising money to support more than a dozen campaigns." In reality there was no political operation behind the websites, and Dupont spent the money himself, including on rent and $25,300 on a Mercedes Benz, the g-men claimed.

Dupont was granted bail and was given a March 25 date to appear in federal court in New York, but never showed. And now he is officially considered a fugitive, presumably hoping that people won't assume that an 80-year-old is really a suspected con man on the lam. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022