According to the FBI, a Pennsylvania man used the names and images of Donald Trump’s relatives, including Trump’s teen son, to defraud unsuspecting supporters of a phony political fundraising operation.
Joshua Hall of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, allegedly solicited thousands of dollars on social media platforms by posing as Trump family members and saying that they assisted him with the fundraising operation.
Hall exploited the money he obtained for his own personal expenditure, according to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Prosecutors stated he had over 100,000 social media followers, but there was no legitimate political organization or fundraising activity associated with the accounts.
Prosecutors said in court papers filed Tuesday, “Central to the scheme was the impersonation by Joshua Hall … of members of the President’s family.” They also alleged that he used the photo of Barron Trump, 15, to falsely claim the boy called him a “friend and partner” of the president.
“Josh is an amazing patriot who is doing tremendous things for our great country. He has my COMPLETE AND TOTAL ENDORSEMENT,” one of the posts said.
Hundreds of people were defrauded over the course of a year, according to the FBI. Hall allegedly stated on his accounts that the funds raised will be used for “field organization and merchandise” and that he had not “…seen a dime of that money personally.”
Hall, a 22-year-old food delivery driver, was apprehended in Pennsylvania and will appear before a federal judge there on wire fraud and identity theft charges filed in New York.
FBI assistant director in charge William Sweeney said in a statement, “As we continue to investigate fraud in all its many forms, we urge the public to remain aware of the prevalence of online scams and exercise due diligence when making donations online.”
The New York Times exposed Hall’s account as a scam in December 2020, and Twitter has since taken it down.
“There was no nefarious intent behind it,” Hall told the Times then. “I was just trying to rally up MAGA supporters and have fun.”