Last Updated on February 17, 2022
A woman who donated to the Freedom Convoy protest movement was forced to close her coffee shop after her personal information was stolen and subsequently leaked. Tammy Giuliani, owner of Stella Luna Gelato Café in Ottawa, Ontario, said in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen that she was forced to close down her store after she began to receive violent threats. Giuliani was one of thousands of Freedom Convoy donors who had their personal information stolen from crowdfunding Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo on Sunday.
“We got a call from the team saying, ‘We’re getting phone calls here,’” Giuliani told the Ottawa Citizen. “I said, ‘What’s going on?’ and they said, ‘They’re threatening to throw bricks through our window. They’re threatening to come and get us.’ We said, ‘Lock the door and we’ll find out what’s going on.’”
After the threats, Giuliani told her staff to go home and reported the disturbance to the police. Giuliani had made a $250 donation to the Freedom Convoy and said she approved of the protest’s aims of lifting vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions. “When a group of people first decided they were going to travel across the country to spread this message of solidarity, it seemed like a beacon of hope for small businesses like us,” she told the Ottawa Citizen. “It’s no surprise that small businesses have been on the edge. Families are at risk of losing their livelihood. I’m a sucker for a grassroots cause.”
Giuliani later walked back her support for the convoy, however. The cafe owner condemned the convoy for “what has transpired” and called her previous support a “mistake.”
“Never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate what has transpired over the past couple of weeks,” Giuliani told the Ottawa Citizen. “None of us anticipated what it turned into and we certainly don’t condone it.” It is unclear what Giuliani was referring to, as the Ottawa protests have not led to any violence.
“In retrospect it was bad judgment, but does that mean that people have a right to threaten our staff? Does it mean people have the right to threaten to throw bricks though our window and to threaten my family? We made a mistake. Who could have anticipated it?”
Giuliani’s personal information was leaked when crowdfunding platform and GoFundMe competitor GiveSendGo was hacked this past Sunday. Thousands of names and addresses were then shared with a leak-hosting site and later amplified by verified Twitter users.
Distributed Denial of Secrets, a nonprofit organization known for hosting hacked materials, announced on its website Sunday that it obtained over 30 megabytes of data from GiveSendGo, including information on donors to the Freedom Convoy. The leaks reportedly include “donor information for the Freedom Convoy from the GiveSendGo platform as of February 13, 2022, including names (self-reported), email addresses, zip codes, and IP addresses,” the organization said.
GiveSendGo’s website was down on Monday but came back online before long. “Sunday evening, February 13th, GiveSendGo was attacked by malicious actors attempting to eliminate the ability of its users to raise funds,” the company said in a statement. GiveSendGo said it voluntary shut down for security purposes and “prevent further illegal actions.” The company added that no credit card information was leaked, and that no money was stolen during the attack. We have also performed many security audits to ensure the security of the site before bringing the site back online,” the company said. GiveSendGo began hosting Freedom Convoy donations after GoFundMe shut down the group’s page and attempted to redistribute their donations to leftist organizations.
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the “Emergencies Act” in order to give the Canadian government additional powers to crack down on the protests. As part of the act, the Canadian government announced they would be expanding “terrorist financing” rules in order to cut the convoy’s funding. Crowdfunding platforms will be required to report large or “suspicious” donations to the Canadian government while banks and other financial institutions can freeze assets with no oversight.