80-year-old conman set up fake sites for Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke, and others that tricked supporters into sending him $250,000, prosecutors say

(Matthew Putney/AP)Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in DeMoines, Iowa, on March 9, 2019. Sanders was one of the politicians scammer John Dupont allegedly pretended to raise money for with fraudulent websites and PACs.
  • An 80-year-old man from California was charged for stealing more than $US250,000 with fake donation sites for political candidates, prosecutors said.
  • In a years-long scheme, John Pierre Dupont pretended to raise money for Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, and other Democratic politicians, according to the Department of Justice.
  • Dupont did not donate the money to campaigns, but used it to pay for rent, car insurance, and a Mercedes Benz, prosecutors say.
  • Dupont has been convicted before for bank fraud and money laundering, and spent years in prison.
  • If convicted, he could receive as many as 22 more years behind bars.

An 80-year-old California conman has been charged for stealing more than $US250,000 by setting up fake donation websites for prominent Democrats, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Tuesday.

John Pierre Dupont pretended to raise money for presidential contenders Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke as well as as other political candidates and progressive causes, prosecutors said.

According to NBC, Dupont has a string of previous convictions, including bank fraud and money laundering, which he received while known by a different name.

The DoJ says that in the latest scheme, Dupont set up a network of fraudulent websites and political action committees (PACs) which claim they would funnel money to prominent candidates.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Dupont scammed thousands of donors in his years-long, nationwide scheme.

“The scam PACs had no operations beyond the fundraising itself, and no funds were used to support candidates,” Berman said in the DoJ statement.

Dupont political site scam DoJ Sanity in Politicsimmigrantchildrenunited.orgA screengrab of a site identified by the Department of Justice as a fake run by John Pierre Dupont in an alleged scam to steal political donation money.

Instead the conman pocketed the contributions himself to pay for a $US25,300 Mercedes Benz sedan, rent, parking tickets and car insurance bills, according to the criminal complaint.

Some of the websites mentioned in the complaint were still live on Tuesday, including beto4senate.org and immigrantchildrenunited.org.

The text on O’Rourke’s site says all donations will be collected by “Democrats for Congress,” which prosecutors say is one of Dupont’s fake PACs. The site claims the money will get to the politicians within 72 hours.

Another webpage, affiliated with the allegedly fraudulent “Sanity in Politics” PAC, claims to collect money for immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the US border with Mexico.

“Our volunteer attorneys, doctors, nurses and social workers are working day and night to liberate these children,” the website says.

“But rescuing these children costs money even when much of our rescue team is composed of volunteers.”

The PAC did not give the money to any volunteers or professionals on the ground, prosecutors said.

Dupont was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of identity theft, the DoJ said. If convicted, he could face a punishment as severe as 22 years in prison.

But this is not the first time that the scammer, who was once a millionaire financier, has a brush with the law.

Dupont, who was formerly known as “John Gary Rinaldo,” was twice imprisoned for white collar crimes, according to NBC.

The network says his first conviction was in 1985, and the second in 1991.During his second sentence, which he was serving for bank fraud and money laundering, he escaped from prison.

After 5 years on the run, Dupont was captured and faced additional charges, NBC reported. He was released from prison in 1999.

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