KEY POINTS

  • Trump supporters donated to a fake political group created by food delivery man
  • Over 100,000 followers believed they were real accounts of Trump family members 
  • Accused said there was nothing wicked about his actions

A 22-year old man from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania was arrested Tuesday for allegedly posing as former President Donald Trump’s family members in order to raise funds for fictitious political organizations.

Joshua Hall, a former food delivery worker, was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, which carries a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment and a consecutive two-year term, respectively, the office of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said.

“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,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said. 

“Hall led hundreds of people to believe they were donating to an organization that didn’t exist by pretending to be someone he wasn’t, as alleged. 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 F. Sweeney added. 

The criminal complaint said Hall duped hundreds of Trump supporters by raising reelection funds for a fake political organization. Hall impersonated members of Trump’s family in fake social media accounts that amassed 100,000 followers. The fundraising scheme reached thousands of dollars which Hall used for his own personal living expenses.

New York Times reported that Hall created Twitter accounts impersonating Trump’s teenage son Barron, Trump’s brother Robert, sister Elizabeth Trump Grau, and Dr Deborah L. Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator on Twitter. The accounts have since been removed by Twitter but they contained posts that mixed "off-color political commentary with wild conspiracy theories."

Trump himself retweeted one of the fake accounts, believing it to be his sister's.

In Hall’s interview with New York Times last year when he was exposed as the impersonator, he said that he ran multiple accounts under the former president’s name "to rally up MAGA supporters and have fun…There was no nefarious intention behind it,” Hall said. 

According to NBC News, Hall was struggling to make ends meet as he struggled to hold a job. He had previously worked as a hotel clerk and sandwich maker and recently, as a delivery man for DoorDash.

The accused, who described himself as a bisexual Trump supporter, earlier admitted that his group, ‘Gay voices for Trump,’ which brought in a total of $7,300, did not exist.

Hall appeared at the Harrisburg federal court before Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab Tuesday.

Donald and Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19, though their son Barron is negative Donald and Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19, though their son Barron is negative Photo: AFP / Alastair Pike