Joshua Hall Allegedly Used Social Media and a Crowdfunding Website to Defraud Hundreds of Victims
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of a Complaint charging JOSHUA HALL with fraud and identity theft offenses for impersonating family members of the then-President of the United States on social media to fraudulently raise funds for a fictitious political organization.
HALL was arrested this morning and will be presented later today in Harrisburg federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss 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. 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.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr., 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.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint:
HALL defrauded hundreds of victims by making false representations in the course of raising funds for a purported political affinity organization (“the Fictitious Political Organization”), for the ostensible purpose of supporting the reelection of the individual who was at that time serving as President of the United States (“the President”). However, the Fictitious Political Organization did not exist and HALL used the funds for his own personal living expenses.
Central to the scheme was the impersonation by HALL of members of the President’s family, including the President’s minor child, among others, through his creation and use of social media accounts bearing those family members’ names and photographs. HALL used those accounts to amass more than 100,000 followers on social media and obtain media coverage, a public platform he then exploited to confer on himself and the Fictitious Political Organization a false imprimatur of close ties with the President’s family and to encourage victims to make monetary contributions to the Fictitious Political Organization.
In total, the scheme devised and executed by HALL yielded thousands of dollars from hundreds of victims located throughout the United States, including in the Southern District of New York.
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HALL, 22, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, is charged with wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment, and aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of 2 years of imprisonment. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Robert B. Sobelman is in charge of the prosecution.
The charge contained in the Complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.
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