A Pennsylvania man has been accused of creating fake online identities impersonating Donald Trump’s brother and youngest son so that he could trick hundreds of people into donating thousands of dollars to a fictitious political group.
Trump Family Impersonator
Joshua Hall, 22, a food delivery driver from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, was released on $25,000 bail after appearing in Harrisburg federal court to face wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges. If sentenced, he could face up to 22 years in prison.
Hall revealed that he had been interested in politics since 2016 when he was a teenager, energized by Mr. Trump. He told to the New York Times that he kind of thought Trump was like a clown at first, but the more he heard him talk, he realized that Trump said kind of off-the-wall things and he agreed with what he was saying.
Hall wanted to become a conservative talk-radio host, so he decided not to attend college and build a persona online instead. He sparred with liberals on Twitter; built a “public figure” page on Facebook; and produced a 49-page e-book on Amazon named “Hall Nation” detailing 38 essential rules to live happily and successfully in life.
He said offline, he was not so successful. He struggled to have a job. He served as a hotel clerk and sandwich maker. Recently, he delivered food for DoorDash.
Prosecutors said Hall spent donations on personal expenses after soliciting contributions to his phony political organization.
According to court records, Trump family impersonator defrauded donors between September 2019 and December 2020 by falsely pretending he was soliciting funds to support Trump’s re-election.
Prosecutors said that Hall’s plan on impersonation to be members of the Trump family. He created social media accounts impersonating Trump’s brother Robert Trump, son Barron Trump and sister Elizabeth Trump Grau to persuade nearly 1600,000 online followers that he was close to Trump’s family. But now all are removed by Twitter.
Hall said that he searched on Wikipedia to find Trump relatives who didn’t yet have Twitter accounts, and first on Robert Trump, the president’s brother.
As @BigRobTrump, he quickly got over 25,000 followers, partly thanks to spreading conspiracy theories. “The coronavirus was planned and released onto the world by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Mr. Hall tweeted as Robert Trump.
When the first Robert Trump account was removed, Mr. Hall started a new one, this time he put the username @UncleRobTrump. It gained over 77,000 followers from July to August. Once the new Robert Trump account has influence, he started using it to promote his own Twitter profile, @TheBiTrumpGuy.
Then Hall began texting Trump supporters as Robert Trump, asking them to distribute to a fund-raiser for his group.
$7,384. It’s the number that Hall supposedly raised for the fake “Gay Voices for Trump” organization based on Times. Hall wrote that donations would go toward “field organizing, events, and merchandise” and he “didn’t see a dime of that money personally.” But the GoFundMe revealed that the funds were withdrawn. The FBI said Hall’s account on the crowdfunding site is now closed.
Apart from impersonating Trump’s family, Hall also pretended to be Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.
According to Times, the fictitious political organization promoted itself on GoFundMe as a “grass-roots coalition of LGBT Americans” but Hall confessed it didn’t exist.
After Robert Trump’s death, Hall used his fake Barron Trump account to make it seem that Trump’s son called Hall a “friend and partner”, prosecutors wrote. This fake Barron Trump account attracts over 34,000 followers in eight days.
“Josh is an amazing patriot who is doing tremendous things for our great country. He has my COMPLETE AND TOTAL ENDORSEMENT!” the fake Barron Trump tweeted.
Finally he impersonated Trump’s older sister the username @TheBettyTrump, who is living in Florida and rarely spoke anything in public since Trump was elected.
Mr. Hall tweeted a dozen of bizarre posts as Trump’s sister, including claims that President Joe Biden is a pathological liar, Ms. Harris is a communist and Michelle Obama is a man. The fake Trump’s sister Elizabeth Trump Grau account even tricked the President.
“Thank you Elizabeth,” Trump tweeted, and shared comments Hall made on the Grau account. He mistook the account as real.
After Trump mistook his sister’s account, the actual Grau told VICE News in November that she was “trying to delete” the fake account. “I have no statement,” Grau stated. “I’m just annoyed about this whole thing.”
Trump family impersonator told the New York Times last year that he had “no nefarious intention” behind his impersonation scheme and stated that he was “just trying to rally up MAGA supporters and have fun.” “I’m a big Trump supporter, but I’m thinking, ‘He’s got to know that that’s a parody,’” Hall responded. “How does he not know?”
Mr. Hall is not the first self- professed Trump fan to try to profit from Trump supporters. For instance, federal prosecutors said in august that Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former adviser, and three others had appealed for donations to build a border wall and subsequently pocketed more than $1 million.
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