U.S. authorities arrested a man in connection to an alleged fundraising scheme that involved the man impersonating former President Donald Trump's family members on social media platforms to urge the public to donate money for a fake political organization.
On Tuesday, police arrested 22-year-old Joshua Hall from Pennsylvania after he allegedly took thousands of dollars of the donated money for himself. The fake organization Hall created claimed the money was to be used to support Trump in his reelection attempts and to operate social media accounts, reported ABC News.
The accounts were falsely claiming to be owned by Trump's family members to give himself and the organization a platform, the Southern District of New York federal prosecutors said in a criminal complaint.
Massive fraud scheme
The complaint alleged Hall was able to gain more than 100,000 followers through the use of fake social media accounts.
The suspect is accused of writing messages impersonating Trump's deceased brother Robert Trump and falsely claiming he was running the organization with Hall. Authorities said Hall also made a fake account of Barron Trump, the former U.S. president's 15-year-old son.
Hall created the fake fundraising scheme along with a campaign on a crowdfunding website. The online platform quickly closed his account when the suspect failed to provide proper documentation, the complaint said, CNN reported.
The court documents did not directly name any of the involved parties such as Donald Trump, his family members, or the crowdfunding website. Authorities said Hall will face up to 22 years in prison if convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges. Officials did not reveal if the suspect had an attorney to represent him.
Impersonating Donald Trump's family
In a statement on Tuesday, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Hall used his fraudulent scheme to collect financial donations from hundreds of victims across the United States. She said the funds were given to a fake organization that did not exist and that Hall used the money for his own gains.
Court records said that in July, Hall impersonated one of Trump's siblings and used the social media account to announce he was managing a fake political organization and credited himself. When Hall impersonated Trump's son, wrote that he was a colleague of the 15-year-old and expressed support for Hall, ABC News reported.
Strauss said the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation worked together with other local government agencies to investigate the case and bring the suspect to justice.
Last year, Hall said his fake social media accounts were not meant for any illegal activities. The suspect said he was only trying to gather "Make America Great Again" (MAGA) supporters and have fun together.
In one instance, Hall used a fake social media account impersonating Elizabeth Trump Grau which the former president replied to. On Twitter, Trump was seen replying to the fake account of his sister, thanking her for her words. Hall later questioned if the former president knew if the fake account was illegitimate.