Two Missourians report unwanted credit card charges from Obama campaign

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | 3:04 p.m. CDT; updated 11:34 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 29, 2008

KANSAS CITY — Two Missourians who support John McCain say they were stunned to find charges on their credit cards directed to the Barack Obama presidential campaign.

Sandy Pogones of Camdenton and Steve Larman of North Kansas City each found a $2,300 charge on their credit card bills recently for the Obama for America campaign. Their credit card companies removed the charges, but both say they are concerned about potential fraud.

"I am very interested in whether some organization is doing this to funnel money to Obama, or if it is somebody using Obama's name to steal from people,'' Larman said.

A spokeswoman for the Obama campaign in Missouri said the incidents were Internet fraud.

"While no organization is protected from Internet fraud — the McCain campaign was forced to refund $1.2 million worth of contributions during the primaries — we monitor closely for incidents like these and work closely with the people affected to refund contributions as quickly as possible,'' spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh said in a written statement.

Larman said he contacted his credit card company after finding the charge while looking at his online account on Oct. 6. He and his wife, Rachel, also contacted Kansas City-area media because they wanted to alert others to look at their statements, he said.

"It's not really about the politics for me,'' Larman said. "But a lot of people are donating to campaigns and that $2,300 charge wouldn't be a big red flag for the banks to check. So I wanted people to be aware."

Larman said the credit card company shut down his online Chase account after he reported the charge. A few days later, he received an e-mail telling him to click on a address to update all his card information. When he contacted Chase, he was told it was a fraudulent e-mail.

Pogones said she called a phone number next to the $2,300 on her bill and was connected to the Obama for America campaign.

"They asked me if I might have gone to an Obama Web site or something,'' she said. "I'm a Republican. There is no chance in the world that I or anybody else in my family would authorize this. I guarantee that.''

The campaign asked her for her credit card number and information and said it would investigate, but Pogones declined to give that information. Instead, she called the Missouri attorney general's office and the FBI to report a fraud.

"It's hard for me to tell what's going on,'' Pogones said. "I do know that if I had just told (the Obama campaign) to credit it back, nobody would have been the wiser. So I chose to take it a step further.''

The FBI and the Obama campaign in Chicago did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press.

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