Joshua Hall, a 22-year-old Pennsylvania man who admitted to posing online as family members of former President Donald Trump, has been arrested on related federal wire fraud and identity theft charges.
A criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York accuses Mr. Hall of having duped hundreds of Trump supporters into donating money to a fictitious “Gay Voices for Trump” group that he purported to run.
Federal prosecutors say Mr. Hall masqueraded on Twitter as Mr. Trump‘s younger brother and teenage son in 2020 to promote his own profile on the platform and get attention for the fake political group.
The complaint says Mr. Hall manage to raise thousands of dollars for his nonexistent “Gay Voices for Trump” group through a crowdfunding site and used that money to cover his personal living expenses.
Mr. Hall acknowledged he was behind several bogus Trump family Twitter accounts and the fake “Gay Voices for Trump” group when he was profiled by the New York Times in December after they evaporated.
“I didn’t end up ever really doing anything with the Gay Voices for Trump,” Mr. Hall, a self-described Trump supporter, told The New York Times. “So I never got the funds from it.”
The crowdfunding website contacted Mr. Hall in December requesting documentation showing how the funds were used, and it closed his account when he did not comply, the criminal complaint says.
Audrey Strauss, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that Mr. Hall “pocketed” the funds for his own use.
“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,” added FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. “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.”
Mr. Hall, of Mechanicsburg, west of Harrisburg, could not be reached for comment, and public court records did not list any lawyer representing him as of Wednesday afternoon.
The New York Times described Mr. Hall in December as a delivery food driver who dreamed of becoming a conservative talk radio host. It reported on him after he had tricked Mr. Trump a few weeks earlier.
In late November, Mr. Hall used a Twitter account to impersonate Elizabeth Trump Grau, the former president’s rarely seen sister, to post a message denying her sibling had lost his race for reelection.
Mr. Trump subsequently thanked his sister on Twitter for her support and shared an article written about the bogus tweet. Twitter has suspended that account and several others run by Mr. Hall.
The New York Times previously reported that Mr. Hall had impersonated five of Mr. Trump‘s relatives on Twitter between February and December 2020, including his brother, sister and teenage son, among others.