Tory Council Leader Runs Vote Phishing Scam?

Regular visitors will, I’m sure, understand perfectly well why I was intrigued, to say the least, by this post at Ridiculous Politics…

Tonight’s London Evening Standard has uncovered a Tory Party internet scam – Tories have been caught trying to get voters to disclose their voting intentions with a phoney website.

Members of the public have been duped by a website called VoterChoice.co.uk that promises to stop them from being bothered by canvassers. But those who register are then asked to disclose which party they intend to vote for next Thursday.

The site has been deliberately branded to look like the independent free service to stop unwanted callers. At the end people who register are even given a meaningless “validation number”.

Labour’s Chair, Hazel Blears said: “This is an absolute con, the online equivalent of the Nigerian letter scam purporting to offer something that it clearly does not.”

Leaving aside Hazel’s failure to cite the correct type of online scam – what is described is more of a phishing scam than a 419, this is a story that’s certain worth a closer look, and so…

First port of call, naturally, is the site itself – www.voterchoice.co.uk – which appears to have been hastily removed and shows only a 403 error page from its hosts Freeola.net.

Not to worry, because the next port of call is, of course, Nominet’s WHOIS service, in order to identify the owner of the domain name, which turns out to be a Mr Jeremy Kite of Longfield, Kent (near Dartford), who registered the domain on 18th March this year…

Actually, I’ve got that name slightly wrong…

…its not Mr Jeremy Kite

…because his full title is Councillor Jeremy A Kite, the Conservative Leader of Dartford Borough Council and member for the ward of Longfield, New Barn & Southfleet, and here he is on is his official Local Authority web page, on the Dartford Council website.

Loathe as I am to say this due to my disdain for the body in question, this is clearly a matter the merits investigation by the Standards Board for England, not to mention, from the description of the website, a flagrant breach of the Data Protection Act.

To compound Tory embarrassment, Kite’s exposure as the owner of a scam website comes a mere nine days after a visit to the town by Tory Leader, David Cameron, who was pictured taking part in a flytipping clean-up that opposition members alleged had been deliberately staged as a photo opportunity…

And who was it that was called upon to defend Cameron?

Jeremy Kite, the leader of the council, vigorously denied the suggestion that the rubbish had been planted, but admitted that council workers had collected rubbish from a 20m radius on the same site and piled it in a heap before Mr Cameron’s arrival. “But I can tell you 100 per cent that the rubbish was on that site and was not brought in,” he said. “In fact, we left it there a day longer than it should have been because we knew Cameron was coming.”

The Times, April 19 2007

I wonder if Kite found the time to show Cameron his new website as well?

14 thoughts on “Tory Council Leader Runs Vote Phishing Scam?

  1. If that is true. Caught hook, line and sinker. Love it when either of the two parties get caught out. Sounds like typical parish-pump politics.

  2. Pingback: Tim Worstall
  3. There’s nothing wrong with that, Tim, but we find that it’s probably best to be up front as to who you are.

    Also, doesn’t it fall foul of the DPA if one gathers personal information via dodgy means?

    (Ah, yes. I’ll read the post properly next time)

  4. She’s no mug is our Hazel I like her.This is my first visit to a posh blog like this,more used to the rough and tumble at Guidos’ proper and Iains’ of course.I wiped me feet before I knocked though Sir.

  5. Well as I said in my only ever other posting here I like Hazel.I also think this chappie seems a pretty decent kind of a bloke.When we of the proper Labour party get rid of Tone and his odious crew all will be well again,you’ll see.Tell Hazel to dis Blair on the doorstep and I may move into your area and cast a vote or two or maybe more! Liked the “nice blog bit” at the end Jeremy good move,do you think they bought it ?

  6. I have a soft spot for Hazel too actually although I think she’s leapt on the bandwagon of this story a little too quickly since she clearly didn’t research the background.

    I do worry that she’s a little over eager to appear youthful and ‘with it’ on occasion – leading to one embarrassing stunt to far on occasion perhaps – which a woman of her intellect really doesn’t need to do but yes, I think she’s a pretty straight sort of person …. although of course, as we know, Toneee is ‘pretty straight sort of guy.” (source T.Blair himself)

    J

  7. “over-excited Labour lad” – how sexist!

    If this guy – and I agree he seems to be a decent fellow – really intended this to be a deterrent to all canvassers, did he contact the other parties before setting up the website?

    I suspect the truth is this was a bit of electoral innovation that wasn’t properly thought out – but I’m sure we’ll see the web used more and more for direct voter communications.

    Maybe if parties are more upfront about it it will avoid the impression that people are being duped – which is the definitely the case here.

  8. That’s the trouble with you politico types you always look for the bad in folk.I am a Labour voter but loath the crew that has been in charge for the last ten years,every bleedin’ one of them.I think this guy (Tory Chappie) took the time to post, and unlike our man (Labour Fellow) came across as o.k. by me.I may now change my mind and vote Tory, and then again I may not.See what the lads in the pub think,couple of jars of the “amber nectar” and we are liable to be the swing vote you lot talk about.

  9. Mike, you may wish to read my follow up post on this, which amongst other things explains something of the difficult this story has generated due to the conflicting accounts given by Jeremy and the Evening Standard.

    Just hit the home page and you’ll find it.

  10. Before you convice yourself that Jeremy is a great bloke you should know that his council he has wasted

  11. Well said Steve. If you lie a run down main street and boarded up shop fronts, then come to sunny Dartford. By forcing out all the local businesses, there is even less reason to visit the town. Naively the council thought that Bluewater would help to regenerate Dartford – yeah, I know.

    Street cleaning – doesn’t really happen anymore. the it around the Orchard theatre and shopping centre gets a quick once over, as does Lowfield Street, the rest of Dartford doesn’t.

    Frankly, the council is working harder and harder to just make the town suck. And that’s why my family and I are planning to move out.

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