A 22-year old Central Pennsylvania man impersonated members of the Trump family online to raise over $7,000 for an invented political organization "Gays for Trump." He then spent the funds on his living expenses, according to federal officials. Joshua Hall, from Mechanicsburg, was taken into custody on Tuesday for identity theft and wire fraud, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Justice Department.
The DoorDash driver raised $7,300 by promoting a group, which he later disclosed did not exist.
Hall was detained on June 8. According to Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss, "Joshua Hall allegedly impersonated family members of the then-President of the United States on social media to fraudulently induce hundreds of victims to donate to a political organization that did not exist and then pocketed those funds for his own use," reported the United States Department of Justice. Strauss went on to thank the FBI for their participation in investigating the case and emphasized their commitment to prosecuting cases of fraud.
Phony Online Endorsements
By posing as the 45th president and his relatives, including his son Barron, Hall seized more than 100k followers online via phony endorsements that he carried on for an entire year. According to federal prosecutors, from September 2019 to December 2020, the 22-year-old ran a scheme that yielded thousands of dollars from hundreds of MAGA supporters from all over the United States.
Hall is currently facing up to 22 years in prison following his slamming with charges of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud, reported Meaww.
The man allegedly raised funds for the pro-Trump reelection organization that did not exist through the creation and usage of social media handles bearing such family members' photographs and names, as indicated by the criminal complaint. Instead of financially supporting the supposed reelection organization, prosecutors alleged Hall used the funds raised for his personal living expenditures, reported NBC News.
Prosecutors also alleged that Hall used the photo of Barron, 15, to falsely claim the boy touted him as a "friend and partner" of the president. According to one of the posts, Hall is reportedly an "amazing patriot" who is doing plenty of things for the nation and has his endorsement.
Hall also posed as Trump's brother Robert Trump and sister Elizabeth Trump Grau who is in her late 70s and resides in Florida, according to federal officials. Robert Trump passed away last year.
According to FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr., Hall led numerous people to believe they were donating to an organization that was non-existent by pretending to be someone he was not, as alleged. As they continue to probe into the fraud in all its many forms, they urge the public to remain aware of the prevalence of internet scams and exercise due diligence when making donations on the internet.
Hall had also fabricated many social media accounts bearing such family members' names and photos.