Wednesday, December 05, 2012

RoboConduct Unbecoming : To Canada from North Dakota

3 days before polls opened in the last federal election, Elections Canada officials were using the word "scam" to describe election irregularities, making this statement from the EC commish throwing in the towel two weeks after the election even before any investigation is  begun all the more astonishing :

 Commissioner of Canada Elections May 16, 2011
"There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding. Although misconduct was reported in several ridings, there is no complaint that it affected the overall result. There is some speculation in the media that the dirty tricks may have affected the result in some close contests.
The investigation of complaints regarding web based conduct - particularly third party conduct - is difficult, time consuming and may be inconclusive. The same applies to telephone communications that flow through intermediaries and foreign call centres. Consequently, the dirty tricks complaints which definitely occurred may not be resolvable, if the conduct is illegal under the Act."
Foreign call centres.

Back in March, Dean Del Mastro gaffed when he mistakenly accused Liberal MP Joe Volpe's campaign of using a foreign call centre from "North Dakota’s 701 area code". 
Amusingly it turned out to be Del Mastro and 13 other Cons who used Ohio-based Republican call centre Front Porch Strategies to help win their 14 ridings.

So given that the Cons are prone to blaming others for what they themselves get up to, let's have a look at just where North Dakota showed up in our last election.

There's the now famous "Idiot, he can hear us" call from North Dakota directing a Winnipeg Centre voter to the wrong polling station. The voter recalled overhearing "people discussing voters in Ontario, particularly Guelph and Thunder Bay."

Liberal MP Joe Volpe asked Elections Canada to formally investigate reports that residents in his Eglinton-Lawrence riding were being harassed by repeated calls from someone with a North Dakota phone number claiming to represent his campaign. 

Kingston Ontario residents reported being woken up at 2am by callers claiming to be from the Liberal Party, ditto calls on Easter Sunday, and being sent to the wrong polling station. Some of these calls were traced to a North Dakota calling centre.

Joyce Murray, MP for Vancouver Quadra said “several” supporters in her riding got late-night calls from people purporting to be Liberals who were “harassing and rude.” The calls came from a number in North Dakota.

London West candidate Doug Ferguson reported calls from Florida and the Dakotas " repeatedly asking them to take Liberal lawn signs. Also on election day, we had calls from people saying they'd received calls saying the polls had been moved."

The Barrie Liberal campaign office reported complaints about calls at 11:30 at night and 6:30am purporting to come from the Liberal Party. Call*69 showed the call came from South Dakota.
Lib MP Mr. Wilfert’s campaign office in Richmond Hill received an automated message two days before the election, showing a number from North Dakota. 
Voters in Ottawa-Orleans reported live calls and robocalls - rude, late at night,claiming to be from the Liberal Party - from North Dakota and Montana. 
Well you get the idea.
800 notes lists over a thousand complaints about North Dakota phone number 701-509-8703 - mostly to do with credit card scams and phishing. Two thirds down page one is this one dated Mar 27 2011 (h/t commenter Lexy at Sixth Estate) : 

followed up on April 14 by a concerned Andrew Gill campaign person asking for more info.

Liberal candidate Andrew Gill ran against Con MP Rick Dykstra in St Catherines in the last election.
“We had a ton of people call in during the campaign saying they got harassing phone calls all hours of the day and night,” Andrew Gill said, “over-the-top aggressive” calls“The way we took it is they were trying to make our campaign look bad.”

Mr. Dykstra, now Parliamentary Secretary to Jason Kenney, has been mentioned on Creekside before in connection with rw US Republican robocallers Front Porch Strategies doing doorknocking for him in his riding, as well as his campaign manager joining FPS as the Canada-US liaison. 

Which is I think where we came in.


Anonymous said...


Cross border telephone communications means that the NSA has records and recordings of ALL these calls.

The NSA will surely help their northern neighbours defend democracy: case solved... right?

Saskboy said...

Our kindly Sigint folks would have info for the RCMP or EC if they asked, I think. Why don't they ask? Why don't we ask EC investigators if they realized this.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's quite the mission statement from Commissioner William Corbett to his troops - election fraud investigation is difficult and time-consuming and unresolvable and won't make any difference anyway. No wonder he retired.

Anonymous said...

Canada has become, a dung heap of corruption.

Corbett is right. There is no point to, the robo-call election fraud investigation. There is nothing in this country that Harper doesn't control. Corbett wasn't the only one, who "resigned" from Elections Canada.

It doesn't matter, two Americans Wenzel and Parker participated directly in, 14 Conservative campaigns. That we have American police operating in Canada. Seems, Canada can't chase Harper's robo-calls into the U.S. We have no jurisdiction in the U.S. Front Porch Strategies and robo-calls from out out the U.S. Too bad for the Canadian citizens. We have a, corrupt monster of a tyrant P.M. Harper, running Canada. As we all see, Harper most certainly did, cheat to win the election. He used every dirty tactic in the book, to lie and cheat his way into office. Nothing is ever going to change Canadians minds, on that one.

Anonymous said...

Probably wouldn't need a genius lawyer to get a judge proof subpoena demanding Front Porch Strategies give up their cross border call logs.

The phone records could then be used to help build a case for a warrant requiring FPS to release more detailed information.

Alison said...

There's no evidence that FPS did any cross-border calling aside from town halls.

On one of the many IP look up sites complaining about credit card phishing scams from 701-509-8703, the office of the N. Dakota AG left a link to this ND AG statement (excerpted) :
"Current technology makes it possible to spoof a telephone number to display as the source of the call. While spoofing phone numbers is illegal it is virtually impossible to trace the source of these calls, which typically are generated by the thousands from locations outside the country. Stopping this practice is difficult because the true identities of the callers are buried behind a line of entities that lease and then re-lease the telephone numbers to others.
Ultimately, there is a questionable company claiming it had no idea the phone number was being used for fraudulent purposes by an entity outside the country."

Anonymous said...

Spoofed or not: there is a prima fascia case for subpoenas.

The fact that the Republican ND AG didn't pursue FPS shouldn't surprise anyone.

Saskboy said...

My It's Over post had such an impact because of spineless wimps like Corbett.

Anonymous said...

Tuesday Dec. 10/2012 Dear Alison..great to see you back giving us such thoughtful information.Just a note about the North Dakota numbers, you and the techno advanced herein, and I am not, but admire anyone who understands it all..the company that owns the block of ND numbers wherein the infamous ND number of the 2011 is, (called our home three times on April 3/2011), that company is under review of its license to operate by the Attorney General's office. Now, there is info at some blog called 'telemarketerspam' and I won't put the company's name here as it is the carrier, the license to oeprate as a carrier in the state. But when I read the info here and especially the one at Mr. Bertschi's riding, the ND and Montana numbers it made me think of this as, well this company is the one who owns the block of numbers and you can see the numbers they have listed on the blog there. You may recall in your research there that in Montana the company was referenced regarding calls of some sort of scam and the sheriff's office put an alert out about it. The company in question actually has their own marketing companies, and also something about offshore business entities and so, Belize and other places. It is all beyond me and however there is no mention of complaints about political calling to Canada and the specific investigation report is about 27 numbers, truly there must be some connection literally a phone connection somewhere. I thought, gee, how handy eh..what next? A phone carrier buys up a whack of phone numbers and then sets about making a number of different names for marketing companies. How it all works is beyond me, fees and such for calls made, and so on. Too much for me, but surely none of our political parties would be anywhere near such would they?
I like the comments about NSA and CSE and so on..yes, but we actually don't need them do we in this case because there are people who hear what is being said each day in the Commons about this matter, and someone somewhere knows all the answers to these questions. They sit totally silent. That is the real disgrace. This gov has no legitimacy. At the moment. I am glad to see such fine young people,(anyone under fifty is young to me these days), and that there is hope for our country yet. Thank you. Hope you can see where that issue with that phone company might help out here to unravel at least the ND phone number mystery. It doesn't even have to be spoofe, although I was shocked to hear that that was one of the 'services' provided by a certain roboserver company. It should be made in the new tough election laws.(ahhahahahaha..sorry..I have to have a morning giggle) make sure a business involved in calling us unwitting public out here, must identify themselves and put the correct phone number in the ID. I'm dreaming, right? oh well..the nightmare for now continues.

Anonymous said...

I think you should have put this quote in bold:

“Ultimately, there is a questionable company claiming it had no idea the phone number
was being used for fraudulent purposes by an entity outside the country.”

Alison said...

and I won't put the company's name here as it is the carrier

Anon : Thank you. A suggestion - if you leave a comment on a really old Creekside post, it will not appear here but I'll still get it.


Alison said...

Correction : I was wrong in my comment above about the extent of FPS election calls into Canada.

Dean Del Mastro for instance paid $2700 each for two batches of calls in April 2011 to contact 20,000 of his constituents for "townhalls".

14 Cons pooled to get a group rate.
11 are known :
Del Mastro, Peterborough
Rick Dykstra, St Catherines
Dean Allison, Niagara West
Jay Aspin, Nipissing-Timiskaming,
Patrick Brown, Barrie
Cheryl Gallant, Renfrew Nipissing
Parm Gill, Brampton-Springdale
Phil McColeman, Brant
James Rajotte, Edmonton-Leduc
Kyle Seeback, Brampton West
Mark Adler, York Centre

"During the election, the company made thousands of calls into each of [14] Canadian ridings from its headquarters in Columbus [Ohio].

A source connected to Front Porch tells CBC News that all the calls from Ohio to Del Mastro’s riding during the election were programmed to show the telephone number of his local campaign headquarters, masking the fact the phoning was being done from Ohio.

Front Porch’s calls to 13 other ridings on behalf of Conservative candidates operated in the same way, the source said."

FPS : "In just five years, we have grown into a firm that has clients in over 40 states and four Canadian provinces."

So we're missing ridings in 2 provinces not on the above Alberta and Ontario list.

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