“Fake news” poster child: “One Nation United”

By | November 27, 2017

I recently received spam from an organization calling itself “One Nation United.” Their web site is onenationunited.com.

I am fairly certain that they are a completely fraudulent organization. Let’s talk about why.

The email address they used to spam me is a dedicated address which I used only for my work in 2008 to help get Barack Obama elected. There is no legitimate way they could have obtained that email address.

Here’s the first paragraph on their home page as of November 27, 2017:

We must stop Donald Trump and the GOP. They are hellbent on transforming this country into a place none of us would want to live in. Just six month into the Trump administration and we are already facing a nuclear showdown with North Korea. We must act decisively right now, so we can win all the seats we need in the midterm to get the Senate and House majority back and put and end to Trump and the GOP’s destructive agenda.

 

This one paragraph has two typographical errors and it’s over six months out-of-date.

Also, note the icon to the left of the site URL: they’re not using SSL. Nobody serious puts up a new site nowadays without SSL.

The footer of their web site says “Copyright 2015 – 2017”:

But whois says their domain was registered in 2016, and so does their Twitter:

Speaking of Twitter, they haven’t tweeted anything since August, over three months ago.

Speaking of activity, the “Right Now” page on their web site hasn’t had anything posted on it since March 2, 2017:

There is no email address on their web site. The mailing address on their web site — 2010 W. Avenue K, Lancaster, CA  03536 — is a UPS Store, which makes the fact that their web site asserts “office hours” of “Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm” (without a time zone!) hilarious.

You can try calling their phone number (323-206-4440) if you’d like, but all that happens is it rings for a while and then disconnects.

Most of the donation links on their web site point to this page at ActBlue, which looks sort of legitimate. However, their “Right Now” page points to a different page at ActBlue, for an organization called “Our Nation United”, with fake text:

There is not a word on their web site about their leadership or for that matter about any named person affiliated with the organization. There are no endorsements, no backers, no board of directors. There is nothing about what they’ve actually done to further the agenda they claim to support. There is nothing about their legal status — whether they are a PAC, 501(c)4, etc.

There’s a real organization called One Nation United which has gone by that name since 2005. It has nothing to do with the organization that spammed me. Nobody serious creates a new, legitimate, nationwide organization using the same name as an established, existing, nationwide organization.

I don’t know whether the people doing this are just in it for the money (i.e., contributions line the pockets of the people running the site) or whether they’re up to something more nefarious. I also don’t know what, if anything, can be done to expose the people behind this and what they’re up to. The best I can do is get the word out and warn people to stay away from them.

UPDATE: There are more layers of this onion to peel back.

The unsubscribe links in the spam I received point at the host “sendy.zeusvision.org”. There is no web site at “zeusvision.org” or “www.zeusvision.org”, and the IP address for “sendy.zeusvision.org” resolves to an Amazon EC2 instance. The whois information for the “zeusvision.org” domain is hidden.

I can’t find any evidence that there’s a company named “Zeus Vision” that does email marketing. The closest I can find is zeusvision.com, which claims to be in the business of outdoor advertising. However…

The address on the Zeus Vision web site, 11870 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles CA  90025, is a UPS Store (sound familiar?). There is no recent press on their web site. There are no articles or press releases shared on the site, and the most recent blog post on the site is dated 2014. Since January 20 2015, they have tweeted just once, on October 12, 2017, a video link with the caption, “Zeusvision Activism supporting The 3rd annual @DaRealAmberRose SlutWalk 2017.”  The video itself doesn’t appear to have anything to do with Zeus Vision.

But wait, there’s more. Is it just a coincidence that the web sites for Zeus Vision and “One Nation United” are both WordPress sites fronted by Cloudflare? Is it a coincidence that both Zeus Vision and “One Nation United” have (UPS Store) mailing addresses in Los Angeles County?

But that’s not all. The footer of the Zeus Vision web site reads, “Copyright 2015 Zeusvision | All Rights Reserved | Zeusvision is a division of ionRepublic LLC.” Well, now, that’s interesting. Let’s see if we can find out something about “ionRepublic LLC.” If we search the State of California’s business database, we find that “IONREPUBLIC LLC” has a suspended business registration. It was registered in 2011 by “Business Filings Incorporated,” i.e., a front company which hides the identities of the individuals involved with the business. And its mailing address is (surprise!), “11870 SANTA MONICA BLVD STE 106-456, LOS ANGELES, CA  90025”. What a coincidence!

Let’s keep looking, shall we? If we Google for “ionrepublic llc”, we find it registered as a trucking company with a single truck whose mailing address is, “44125 Yucca Ave, Lancaster, CA 93534″. Remember Lancaster? That’s where the mailing address for “One Nation United” is. Another amazing coincidence. We can also see this information on the US DOT web site, where the type of cargo carried by the company is listed as “advertising.”

If you call the telephone number listed for “ionRepublic LLC,” you get voicemail with the following outgoing message: “Hello. You’ve reached my personal voicemail system. Please leave your name and the message you would like to get to me, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” Note the lack of identifying information on the outgoing message.

Most likely, whoever is behind “Zeus Vision” and “ionRepublic LLC” is behind “One Nation United”. I don’t know how to pierce that veil, but perhaps someone reading this does.

(Cross-blogged at Daily Kos.)

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