A Pennsylvania man fraudulently used then-President Donald Trump's relatives’ names and photos – including those of Trump’s teen son – to rip off unsuspecting followers of a fictitious political fundraising operation, the FBI said.
Joshua Hall, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, allegedly raised thousands of dollars using Trump family identities on his platforms, claiming those relatives were helping him run the fundraising operation.
Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York said Hall used the money he raised for his own personal spending. He had more than 100,000 social media followers, but there was no actual political organization or fundraising group tied to the accounts, prosecutors said.
“Central to the scheme was the impersonation by Joshua Hall … of members of the President’s family,” prosecutors said in court papers filed Tuesday.
Prosecutors allege Hall even used the likeness of Barron Trump, 15, falsely claiming the teen called Hall 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 victims were ripped off in the year-long scheme, the FBI said. On his accounts, Hall allegedly wrote that the money raised would go to “field organization and merchandise” and that he had not “…seen a dime of that money personally.”
Hall, 22, who had worked as a food delivery driver, was arrested in Pennsylvania and is expected to appear before a federal judge there on the wire fraud and identity theft charges filed in New York. Attempts to reach his attorney were not immediately successful.
"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," FBI assistant director in charge William Sweeney said in a statement.
Twitter has taken down Hall’s account, which was exposed by the New York Times as being fake back in December 2020.
“There was no nefarious intention behind it,” Hall told the Times then. “I was just trying to rally up MAGA supporters and have fun.”
He did not address the alleged false fundraising allegations.