“I saw all these ads on Telegram that had Trump pushing coins and checks that he endorsed and how you can cash them in after a year and make a profit,” the grandmother, who lives in Mobile, told NBC News. “I was told how you can go to Bank of America or Target or Amazon to cash them in.”
About six months ago, the grandmother said, she gathered up the Trump Bucks and commemorative coins she had purchased and drove 60 miles east to the nearest Bank of America branch she could find in Pensacola, Florida.
There, she said, she was greeted by a teller who told her she’d been scammed.
“When we get there the lady tells me she’s seen dozens of people coming in to cash these checks and they have nothing to do with this,” the grandmother said.
A Florida woman who lives north of Tampa, and who also asked not to be identified by name because she fears internet harassment, said her 77-year-old mother-in-law was also fooled into investing tens of thousands of dollars in Trump Bucks.
“My mother-in-law has always been conservative and prone to believe in conspiracy theories,” she said. “But after Trump lost the election, she went down the internet rabbit hole with this.”
This isn’t the first time her mother-in-law has fallen prey to a Trump-inspired scam.
“Several years back, she got into Nesara, which says that a radical reset of the U.S. economy is coming and all debts are going to be wiped out,” the Florida woman said. “She thinks she’s getting all the money back and that she’ll make a huge profit too.”
First, the Florida woman said, her mother-in-law “started buying all this support Trump memorabilia from a website that clearly states it’s memorabilia.”
“From there, she went to other sites which has all sorts of people claiming that if you buy these Trump coins or these Trump checks for, say, a hundred dollars, you’ll be able to take them to a bank and cash them in for thousands of dollars.”
To prove to her mother-in-law that she had been swindled, the Florida woman said she drove her to a nearby bank and urged her to try to redeem the Trump Bucks in her possession.
“We thought she got it, she even admitted she got scammed,” the Florida woman said. “But then giant boxes arrived at the house full of Trump checks and other stuff that she bought for $500 and that would supposedly be worth $6 million one day. We tell her she’s getting scammed and she says, ‘Just wait, Trump will make all the patriots rich.’”
“It’s like she’s in a cult,” the Florida woman said.
Good question. It’s not clear who concocted the TRB system scheme or created the fake promotional videos.
A 2022 New York Times investigation reported a Romanian marketing company to be at the origin of so-called Trump coins — which had been wildly popular in 2022 and were also fraudulently marketed as a kind of alternative currency.
Most of the posts and videos for the TRB system currently link to websites registered with the company names Patriots Dynasty, Patriots Future and USA Patriots, whose listed address can be traced to Shipoffers.com, a shipping center in Aurora, Colorado.
Shipoffers warehouse manager Josh Pier said the center ships Trump-related products but said it doesn’t manufacture them. He declined to discuss what those products are and would not confirm the names of the companies it ships for. The company handles shipping for a variety of companies, he said.
Pier was echoed by Tony Grebmeier, one of the Shipoffers owners, who said he was unaware of any problems with any of the products the company ships and said if he was aware of any issues he’d take care of them.
Responding to overwhelmingly negative Google reviews, Shipoffers tells unhappy buyers that it doesn’t actually make the products or bill customers.
The TRB products are purchased through online retailers ClickBank and Digistore24, which are affiliate marketing networks based in Idaho and Florida that connect would-be promoters with products to sell and earn commissions.
The unique links posted across social media and in the captions of YouTube videos contain the usernames of these affiliate marketers, who get a cut from each sale generated by the fraudulent ads.
A list of URLS for just one website, shows hundreds of affiliate marketers associated with a TRB membership booklet, a product falsely marketed as necessary to redeem the TRB products for real money.
NBC News has also reached out to ClickBank, Digistore24 and ShipOffers for comment. When an NBC News reporter called the Patriots Dynasty phone number, she got a busy signal. There was also no response to an email sent to the address associated with Patriots Dynasty.
The Alabama grandmother says she was initially fooled by the AI version of Trump she saw in the ads. She trusted Trump’s supposed business acumen and thought this was a good investment to have something to leave behind for her children.
“Now I realize, well, that was stupid,” she said. “But I bought them because I believed President Trump, because he knows all about finance, and he was going to help the real Trump Patriots get rich.”
Published: 2023-05-28 22:56:00