North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor, has given over $50,000 to a scammer, according to his campaign. Rather than accepting responsibility for falling victim to a scam, Stein’s campaign pointed the finger at a vendor.

“A campaign vendor fell victim to a sophisticated scam,” campaign spokeswoman Kate Frauenfelder said in an email. “The vendor has consulted law enforcement, filed a report with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and taken precautionary measures.”

Stein announced his candidacy for governor on Jan. 18, 2023, and was scammed for more than $50,000 just one week later.

It is unclear whether the vendor Stein refers to is Ralston Lapp Media Group, the intended target of the payment. Stein’s campaign paid them $50,438.77 about six weeks after the mistake, according to his 2023 mid-year financial report.

That same day, March 6, 2023, Stein warned consumers of scams during National Consumer Protection week.

“Don’t panic or feel pressured into giving your money or personal information away,” Stein said. “Scammers always try to use fear tactics, to try to get you to act without thinking. So if you have any concerns, any questions, call my office: 877-5 NO SCAM. It’s so much better to ask somebody than try to get your money back after you’ve been scammed.”

Carolina Journal reported the story first after digging through Stein’s campaign finance reports.

Stein’s campaign ignored repeated attempts by the Carolina Journal requesting information about the transaction. Instead, the campaign provided a statement to WRAL, blaming the vendor and calling the scam “sophisticated.” The story has since been picked up by multiple national media outlets.

Stein’s campaign reported raising around $6 million on his 2023 mid-year report and spent over $1.3 million on expenses during the first half of the year, including a $63,000 car.

The loss “serves as an important reminder that fraud happens every day and that people and companies should ensure that they know who they are dealing with when exchanging money online,” Frauenfelder said.