How to accept anonymous donations for political dissidents?
December 19, 2010 2:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm building a website for a group of political dissidents in an Asian country. They would like to have a way to accept donations without their government tracking them down. What is the best way to do this?

Currently we are thinking of using Paypal, but we are unsure how safe this is.

The idea is to tie a Paypal account to a credit card or bank account belonging to a third party here in the U.S., who would then send the funds back through a different account to the group's bank account in their country. That way if their government were to subpoena Paypal for the recipient's info (which I believe they could do since Paypal does business there), they would learn only the name of an American with no other ties to that country.

Donors would mostly come from other countries; those in that country would be warned that their info could possibly be revealed by a government investigation.

Some important details: This country has fairly good political ties with the U.S. The third party is trusted. The expected funds would be very small, less than $1,000.

What could go wrong here? How to best hide any info on this group? And how much info on the recipients would donors see? Is there a better way of doing this?

Thank you for any advice and suggestions.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How would the third party in the US transfer the money back to the target country without creating a link from donors to paypal to the third party to the dissidents? Once they got the name of the third-party, they would certainly try to get all of their financial transactions including the outgoing money. Or is that the question?

This sounds kinda like money laundering (obscuring the source of funds) and the iffy status of the dissidents could be construed as supporting terrorists. That might be why you aren't getting responses.
posted by parkerjackson at 4:13 PM on December 19, 2010

The funds would be transferred to me or another trusted party in the U.S. to be sent back.

The expected amount is negligible, really, so I don't think there would be any violation of U.S. laws against money laundering. And the group is harmless, and certainly not on any U.S. watchlist.

There must be groups who send funds to Burmese or Iranian dissidents without encountering problems on this side. How do they do it?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:22 PM on December 19, 2010

You could have a PayPal account in your name and then the donations could be deposited into your bank account. You could then send the money to someone in the other country via Western Union or a similar service or you could give someone in the country an ATM card for your account (assuming ATMs are available there to withdraw money from AND you trust them with an ATM card to your account). That being said, the money--unless a donor hands you cash and you hand cash to someone on behalf of the cause--is easy to track and your name will be all over it. AND you may not really know what the money is being used for so when your name comes up all over money that is even though unlikely but all together possibly, being used to support, say, terrorism, YOU would be toast (legally speaking). If it sounds illegal, I would certainly have second thoughts about doing it.
posted by MsKim at 6:08 PM on December 19, 2010

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