Pa. man arrested for allegedly impersonating Trump's family in fundraising scheme

ByLauren del Valle and Paul LeBlanc, CNN, CNNWire
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
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A man from central Pennsylvania was arrested for allegedly impersonating former President Donald Trump's family members on social media to raise money for a fake political organization, according to prosecutors.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania -- A man from central Pennsylvania was arrested Tuesday for allegedly impersonating former President Donald Trump's family members on social media to raise money for a fake political organization he used to defraud donors and pocket the money for himself, according to prosecutors.

Joshua Hall, 22, allegedly pocketed thousands of dollars from hundreds of victims across the country by advertising his fake political organization that claimed to support Trump's reelection and operating fake social media accounts purportedly belonging to Trump's family members to give himself and the organization a platform, a criminal complaint from federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York states.

The social media accounts collectively amassed more than 100,000 followers, according to the complaint.

Hall created social media accounts and wrote messages impersonating Trump's now-deceased brother Robert Trump, falsely writing that Robert Trump ran the organization with Hall. He also allegedly impersonated Barron Trump, the former President's 15-year-old son, on social media.

The alleged fake fundraising efforts included a campaign on a crowdfunding website that eventually closed his account when Hall failed to provide documentation, according to the complaint. Neither Donald Trump, his family members, nor the crowdfunding website that Hall allegedly used are mentioned by name in the court documents.

He could face up to 22 years in prison if convicted of the wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, according to sentencing guidelines provided in a Southern District of New York news release. It was not immediately clear Tuesday if Hall had retained an attorney.

"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 US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement Tuesday.

"We thank the FBI for their partnership in the investigation of this case, and we remain dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting fraud wherever we find it."

Hall told The New York Times last year that there was "no nefarious intention" behind his posts and maintained that he was "just trying to rally up MAGA supporters and have fun."

In one instance, according to the Times, a tweet from Hall posing as Trump's sister Elizabeth Trump Grau earned a response from the former President.

"Thank you Elizabeth," the former President wrote on Twitter in response to a tweet from Hall's fake profile of Trump's sister.

"I'm a big Trump supporter, but I'm thinking, 'He's got to know that that's a parody,' " Hall told the Times. "How does he not know?"

CNN has reached out to representatives of the former President for comment.

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