Josh Hall, a fervent Trump supporter, said that he created the accounts for Elizabeth Trump Grau, their brother Robert Trump, and a series of other political figures just to amuse himself.
He also made money, selling t-shirts and soliciting $7,300 in donations via a GoFundMe page.
Josh Hall, a 21-year-old food delivery driver, managed to fool the president with a fake Twitter
Hall, from Mechanicsburg, PA, ‘was just trying to rally up MAGA supporters and have fun’
Hall has insisted there was ‘nothing nefarious’ in his creation of fake Twitter accounts
Hall said he became interested in politics in 2016, when he was a teenager, inspired by Trump.
‘I kind of thought he was like a clown at first,’ he said.
‘But the more I heard him talk, I realized: Yeah, he says kind of off-the-wall things, but I do agree with what he’s saying.’
Hall began his fake Twitter escapades in February, and culminated on November 20 by tricking the president into thinking an account was his own sister.
On November 18 @TheBettyTrump tweeted: ‘This election inspired me to break my silence and speak out on behalf of my family. My brother Don won this election and will fight this to the very end. We’ve always been a family of fighters. We are all so very proud of him and the job he has done for our country. 4 MORE YEARS!’
A conservative news site published a story about how Trump Grau had finally joined Twitter.
The president then retweeted the article, with the caption: ‘Thank you Elizabeth,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘LOVE!’
Hall told The New York Times: ‘I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness. He actually thinks it’s his sister.’
Elizabeth Trump Grau with her brother Donald at Mar-a-Lago in January 2005
Trump, pictured on Tuesday, fell for the fake account in the name of his sister Elizabeth
In the ten months of his fake Twitter journey, he created profiles claiming to be Robert Trump, the president’s brother; Barron Trump, the president’s 14-year-old son; and Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.
Hall in July was behind an account pretending to be Trump’s brother Robert. The account was shut down. Robert died in August
The accounts collectively amassed more than 160,000 followers.
He told his followers that the government wanted to implant Americans with microchips, and that John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in a plane crash in 1999, was alive and about to replace Mike Pence as vice president.
‘There was no nefarious intention behind it,’ Hall said.
‘I was just trying to rally up MAGA supporters and have fun.’
Hall, who is bisexual, started a Gay Voices For Trump GoFundMe and raised $7,300
Hall had hoped to become a conservative talk-radio host, so decided against going to college and instead planned to build a persona online.
He jousted with liberals on Twitter; created a ‘public figure’ page on Facebook; and self-published a 49-page e-book on Amazon called Hall Nation that detailed his ’38 essential rules to live life in order to be happy and successful’, he told the paper.
Accused of harassment, he began selling t-shirts which said: ‘Josh Hall did nothing wrong’
The first rule was: ‘Insults are a good thing.’
He began to develop a small following, and so in January, when ‘a Planned Parenthood loving radical leftist’ whom he used to date accused him of harassment, he appealed for money online and raised $815.
He also began selling t-shirts that said ‘Josh Hall did nothing wrong.’
A hearing in the case is scheduled for later this month.
Twitter suspended his account, and that is what drove him to start the fake profiles.
Using the fake Robert Trump account he started, which had 77,000 followers, he messaged people asking them to donate to a fund-raiser for his group.
Over $7,300 was donated. Hall says he has not withdrawn the money and plans to give it back; GoFundMe says it has been withdrawn.
Hall hoped to become a conservative radio commentator but for now is delivering food
Josiah Bruns, an engineer from Goffstown, New Hampshire, donated $100.
With his donation, he left a comment: ‘Uncle Rob Trump asked me too.’
Bruns told The New York Times that a QAnon message board had led him to the Robert Trump account.
‘We’re trained on the Q research board to always question everything,’ he said, adding that he used those lessons to scrutinize the Robert Trump account.
‘I’m probably 65 per cent sure that it was real.’
After the paper told Bruns that he had been tricked, he said he didn’t mind.
In the future, he said, he would apply more research techniques he had learned from the QAnon movement to decipher what was real on the internet.