James O'Keefe claims Project Veritas was scammed by hackers

The group says it was scammed out of $165,000 by hackers posing as their own attorneys

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published September 21, 2021 5:52PM (EDT)

James O'Keefe , founder of Project Veritas (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
James O'Keefe , founder of Project Veritas (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

Project Veritas, the activist group founded by James O'Keefe whose sting operations against Democratic and left-wing organizations have often blown up in the past, is now claiming that it was scammed by hackers posing as attorneys.

In a video released last week, O'Keefe alleges that hackers secretly monitored his correspondences with outside attorneys, later replicating the lawyers' names and email addresses with slight variations so they could hoodwink the activist into paying them a $165,000. 

"It appears the fraudsters were watching, waiting for an invoice to be sent to us and then pounced, impersonating them, replying to a real email as the lawyer's name the moment the invoice came," O'Keefe said in the video. 

The alleged scheme comes on the heels of news that the organization's New York headquarters was destroyed by Hurricane Ida. 

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

On Tuesday, Project Veritas released another video featuring a person who claims to be a registered nurse employed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Jodie O'Malley, alleges in the video that the federal government fails to report "dozens" of adverse reactions to the vaccine, namely congestive heart failure. 

In the video, O'Malley interviews an apparent Health and Human Services emergency room doctor, Maria Gonzalez, who tells her that "the government doesn't want to show that the darn vaccine is full of sh*t."

"I'm calling for an investigation," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a staunch anti-vaxxer, tweeted in response to the video.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that while the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is associated with an elevated risk of myocarditis, the side effect "remains rare," with Covid-19 "more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine is."

In May of this year, The New York Times reported that Project Veritas played a central role in a "network of conservative activists" attempting to root out public officials that displayed insufficient fealty to Donald Trump during his presidency. The group, the paper reported, apparently ran undercover operations against the FBI, recruiting various women to go on dates with bureau agents and record them making anti-Trump remarks. Many of the group's operatives were reportedly trained to infiltrate various trade unions and Democratic campaigns – an effort led by Erik Prince, the scandal-plagued founder of security contractor Blackwater Worldwide. 

In 2017, O'Keefe attempted to smear The Washington Post for shoddy journalistic ethics, reportedly feeding the paper a false story about a woman claiming to have been impregnated by Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. After finding inconsistencies in the woman's story, the Post observed her walking into Project Veritas's headquarters.

Over the years, O'Keefe has coordinated similar operations against the Hillary Clinton campaign, the American Federation of Teachers, George Soros' nonprofit Open Society Foundations, and the League of Conservation Voters. 

Most of the group's funding is reportedly funneled through Donors Trust, a right-wing nonprofit donor-advised fund largely sponsored by Koch brothers. The Donors Trust, once called "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement," allows its contributors to remain anonymous by virtue of its nonprofit status. 

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

MORE FROM Jon Skolnik

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate James O'keefe Project Veritas