FBI Says Man Created Black Lives Matter Facebook Charity Page To Defraud Donors of $450,000
An Ohio man is under federal indictment for allegedly using a phony nonprofit Facebook page with the Black Lives Matter name to rob donors of more than $450,000, the FBI says.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a federal grand jury in Cleveland returned a four-count indictment of money laundering and wire fraud against Tyree Conyers-Page, who goes by the moniker Sir Maejor Page. The FBI believes he created a 501(c)(3) Facebook page, calling it “Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta” and defrauded people after its tax exempt status as a charity was revoked.
The money he is accused of taking, according to a U.S. District Court indictment, was spent on lavish items for himself.
“Page is accused of using unprecedented tensions and uncertainty due to widespread civil unrest and a global pandemic to fill his own bank account,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith, in a statement. “Page allegedly purchased homes, traveled, and spent other people’s money to buy luxury items for himself, all on the backs of hardworking people believing they were donating to a worthy cause.”
The name “Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta” was registered in Georgia in March 2016 as a nonprofit about a month after the Facebook page was created. Page was named as the president and CEO. Facebook recognized BLMGA as a nonprofit and allowed donations to be solicited. But in May 2019, BLMGA’s tax-exempt charity status with the IRS was revoked because Page allegedly did not file the correct tax forms for three straight years. Further, in August 2019, the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division dissolved the nonprofit corporation because of failure to file the necessary documents.
However, the indictment says between May and September of 2020, Page claimed on the Facebook page that donations would be used to fight racism and social injustice. The page continued to use a donation button for users to press and send money. All the while, federal prosecutors say, Page spent the money to purchase property in Toledo, Ohio, as well as entertainment, clothing, hotel rooms and firearms.
“These allegations involve fraudulent misrepresentations that the donations received would support Black Lives Matter (Atlanta, Georgia) when, as stated in the indictment, those funds were actually used by the defendant for personal expenses he incurred in Toledo and elsewhere,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan.
Page was arrested last September but has been free on $10,000 unsecured bond since that time, under conditions that he not use Facebook and avoid fund-raising activities, according to the Toledo Blade.
In a prepared statement to the newspaper, Page denied any wrongdoing and said that his intention was to be an advocate for social justice.
“It is to no surprise that the government wishes to move forward in a criminal case against a social justice activist,” Page wrote. “I maintain my position that I did not intentionally commit any crimes, as it is my only purpose in life to fight for those whose voices have been muffled and or silenced. Had I violated any state of federal laws I have no problem owning that and working to correct my actions. I believe that I acted in good faith. I look forward to a fair and just due process under the law.”
Page was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday (March 17), the Blade reports.