A man accused of impersonating former President Donald Trump’s family members to steal from thousands of his supporters was arrested Tuesday morning, federal prosecutors said.
Joshua Hall, 22, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Was arrested on one count of wire fraud and identity theft, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York City said in a statement. He appeared in court for the first time on Tuesday.
Hall allegedly raised funds for a non-existent pro-Trump re-election organization through “the creation and use of social media accounts bearing the names and photographs of these family members,” according to the criminal complaint.
“Hall has used these accounts to gather more than 100,000 social media followers and gain media coverage,” the complaint says. He allegedly posed as several members of the former president’s family, including his brother, Robert, and youngest son, Barron, The New York Times reported last year.
Instead of funding the so-called re-election organization, prosecutors alleged that Hall used the money collected for “his own personal living expenses.”
“In total, the scheme designed and executed by Hall has brought in thousands of dollars to hundreds of victims located across the United States, including in the Southern District of New York,” the statement said.
Investigators said Hall created the many fake social media accounts between September 2019 and November 2020. While posing as Barron in August, Hall reportedly said in a tweet: “Josh is an amazing patriot who does great things. for our great country. It has my FULL AND TOTAL APPROVAL! “
Efforts to reach Hall failed on Wednesday. We didn’t know if he had a lawyer.
Hall told The Times last year that he ran several accounts under Trump’s name “to rally MAGA supporters and have fun.”
“There was no malicious intent behind it,” he said.
A self-proclaimed bisexual supporter of Trump, Hall told the newspaper he was struggling to make ends meet, holding positions as a hotel clerk, sandwich maker and most recently as a DoorDash food delivery courier. . He managed to impersonate Trump’s family members who did not have Twitter accounts and make false statements about Covid-19 and QAnon, according to the Times.
Hall admitted that his group, Gay Voices for Trump, “a grassroots coalition of LGBT Americans” which raised more than $ 7,000 in a GoFundMe campaign to go towards “organizing on the ground, events and merchandise.” , was not real.
He told The Times he “never drew the funds out of it” – a claim a GoFundMe spokesperson appeared to dismiss, saying the organizer, an account named Josh H., had withdrawn the money. silver.
“I should have used better judgment and everything,” he said. “But I didn’t deliberately try to fool people with money.”
In the statement, FBI Deputy Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Hall has made hundreds of people believe they are donating to an organization that does not exist by pretending to be someone. that he was not. As we continue to investigate fraud in all its forms, we urge the public to remain aware of the prevalence of online scams and to exercise due diligence when making online donations. “