NEW YORK (AP) – A Pennsylvania man was accused on Tuesday of creating fake online identities for ex-President Donald Trump’s brother and youngest son in order to dupe hundreds of people across the country by donating thousands of dollars to what prosecutors described as a bogus political organization.
Joshua Hall, 22, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Was released on $ 25,000 bail after appearing in Harrisburg federal court to face charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. If found guilty, he faces up to 22 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Hall spent contributions for personal expenses after soliciting donations from his organization of non-existent political affinity.
A message requesting comment was sent to his lawyer.
According to court documents, Hall defrauded donors from September 2019 to last December by falsely claiming he was raising funds to support Trump’s re-election.
Hall’s impersonation of Trump’s family members was at the heart of the scheme, prosecutors said. They said he created social media accounts with the names and photographs of Trump’s brother and son to convince more than 100,000 online subscribers that he was close to Trump’s family.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, Hall stepped up his efforts last July, soliciting contributions from a crowdfunding site for what he said would be “organizing land, events and merchandise. By its political organization.
Hall set up a social media account with the name and photo of Trump’s brother Robert, then made it appear that the brother supported his bogus organization until the brother’s death in August, according to the complaint.
Three days after the death, Hall created an account that looked like Trump’s then 14-year-old son Barron was supporting him, according to the complaint.
The complaint stated that in a social media post, Hall impersonated Barron Trump to give the impression that Trump’s son called Hall a “friend and partner” and said, “Josh is an incredible patriot who does great things for our great country. He has my FULL AND TOTAL APPROVAL!
In August, Hall said in a private social media message about the funds he had raised that he “had not seen a dime of this money personally,” court documents said.
The crowdfunding site closed the account after Hall failed to document last December how he used the funds he raised, according to the complaint.
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