Trump supporters who have been accused of storming the U.S Capitol on 6 January 2021 are crowdfunding their legal fees online. Even though multiple tech companies and fundraising platforms have started to crack down on these rioters, extremists involved in the Capital riot are always a step ahead. Many use aliases and different usernames and accounts, while others move quickly between an ever-expanding network of fundraising platforms online.
Just last week, one defendant raised almost $1,80,000. PayPal and Stripe, two payment processors that deal with credit and debit card payments for online businesses saw a surge in shell accounts after the Capitol Riot. Besides, rioters have been raising money on conservative platforms like GiveSendGo, which describes itself as a free Christian crowdfunding site.
An analysis by USA Today showed that at least 10 rioters including Proud Boys Nicholas Ochs and Nick DeCarlo, raised legal fees on GiveSendGo. Proud Boys Hawaii chapter founder Nicholas Ochs managed to raise $20,000 in a short window of time before his fundraiser page was removed. He later raised $1,300 on another site. Another site that rioters are flocking to is AllFundIt, a crowdfunding platform created by conservative blogger and Trump supporter Joe Dan Gorman. Touted as the Christian alternative to GoFundMe, this platform went so far as to encourage rioters to use the space to raise money. Our Freedom Funding is another platform that featured the fundraising efforts of Proud Boys Joe Biggs and Dominic Pezzola, who have both face federal charges for their involvement in the attacks.
Tech platforms have long grappled with their role in the spread of misinformation and hate speech and crowdfunding platforms are no different. After 2017, crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe and Paypal put stringent measures in place to check users who raised money for activities that promote hate and violence. However, despite concentrated efforts, it’s still difficult to stay ahead of individuals and groups raising money for alt-right or extreme movements and purposes.