Did Donald Trump Commit Fraud in #BTV?

Photo from Vermont Public Radio’s Instagram feed.

noun: fraud; plural noun: frauds
wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
Oxford Dictionary

Last night Donald Trump held an event in Burlington Vermont at the Flynn Theater. The theater holds up to 1,400 people yet Trump’s campaign released up to 20,000 tickets through the online ticketing platform Eventbrite. For those that did make it through the door, Trump’s security guards asked attendees to swear loyalty to the candidate. If you refused, the guards kicked you out.

Given this sequence of events, it’s reasonable to ask: Did Donald Trump commit fraud for his Burlington event?

Read the definition of Fraud above. When people signed up for tickets, a transaction occurred. That transaction entailed a reasonable expectation of attending an event in exchange for personal information, including name, email and perhaps mailing address. The value proposition of that transaction is clear: In exchange for attending an event (a value to the attendee) people deliver some of their personal information (a value to the campaign).

Let’s make no bones about it: Personal information like this is the oxygen modern political campaigns run on. Creation of data sets like this fuel the outreach and marketing efforts to get out the vote. Your personal information has great value to the Trump campaign or any other campaign. Additionally, being the savvy businessperson he is, one can reasonable assume Trump will try to monetize your personal information by selling his lists to others.

Clearly, Trump has a clear personal or financial gain by securing your data. He has wrongfully deceived you by giving you the assumption that you would attend his event. Yet nowhere on the Eventbrite event does it state that only those who swear loyalty to Trump will be allowed entry. It makes no mention that he has oversold the event by a factor of 9X.

I’ve spoken with an event organizer who claims he does this all the time. But when you dig into his actions, he and his team are simply handing out tickets to bystanders, the equivalent of dropping 20,000 tickets on a crowd of people. There is no transaction here.

A reasonable person could assume that the Trump campaign committed fraud last night in #BTV. At the very least, if you number yourself among the swindled, feel free to complain to Eventbrite so they don’t continue to allow clients to use their platform for deceit.

A class action suit would be way more fun, though.