Black lives don’t just matter; they can also be lucrative if you’re ruthless enough.
An Ohio man capitalized on the trendy phrase to set up a fake web presence, rake in more than $450,000 in donations and pay for entertainment, clothing, hotel rooms and firearms, the FBI says.
BET.com reports that A federal grand jury in Cleveland returned a four-count indictment of money laundering and wire fraud against Tyree Conyers-Page, who also goes by the name Sir Maejor Page. The FBI says he set up a Facebook page called “Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta” and defrauded donors after its tax exempt status as a charity was removed.
According to a U.S. District Court indictment, the money he is accused of taking, 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 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.”
“Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta” was registered in Georgia in March 2016 as a nonprofit about a month after the Facebook page appeared, with Page named as president and CEO. Facebook didn’t hesitate to acknowledge BLMGA as a nonprofit and allowed donations.
In May 2019, however, BLMGA’s tax-exempt charity status with the IRS was revoked after Page allegedly did not file needed tax forms for three years. In August 2019, the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division dissolved the nonprofit because of failure to file necessary documents.
The indictment states that between May and September of 2020, Page claimed on the Facebook page that donations would be used to combat racism and social injustice. The page continued to feature a donation button, which got used. Federal prosecutors say Page was spending the money to purchase property in Ohio along with the other items.