The largest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is reportedly a fraud — and run by a white Australian man who used it to rack up over $100,000 in donations.
According to CNN, the page, simply called “Black Lives Matter,” had almost 700,000 followers before it was suspended; almost 400,000 more than the verified page of the same name.
The page was connected with online fundraisers that brought in at least $100,000 that supposedly went to Black Lives Matter causes. However, at least some of the money went to a bank in Australia.
Online payment platforms for the bogus page, including PayPal and Donorbox, have been suspended since the page was exposed as a fraud.
The scam has been tied to Ian Mackay, an official with the National Union of Workers in Australia. He has been suspended by the union pending an investigation. A rep for the union distanced itself from the scammer, telling CNN:
“The NUW is not involved in, and has not authorized, any activities with reference to claims made in CNN’s story.”
Mackay has reportedly registered with dozens of websites, many of which are tied to black rights. He registered blackpowerfist.com in 2015 using his name, email address, and phone number.
Mackay denied running the fake page when CNN reached out to him about it last month. When asked about a BLM website that was once registered to his name, he told the outlet he “bought the domain name only and sold it.” The Facebook page was then deactivated within a few hours.
Oddly enough, officials from the verified BLM org were apparently privy to the fake page for quite some time, and claim Facebook and Twitter ignored requests to have it taken down! A statement on BLM’s website explained:
“For months after noting the fraudulent profiles, the Black Lives Matter Global Network and many of our allies reached out to both Twitter and Facebook to request the fake profiles be deactivated and taken down. Unfortunately, our requests received no adequate response and many supporters continued to be misled. We are relieved that the fraudulent profiles have ultimately been removed and hope that the social media platforms will soon adopt protocols to stop this from happening again.”
Wow. You’d think Facebook would already have a protocol in place for scams like this — or at the VERY least would be responsive to requests to have the pages taken down!
Until the social site steps up its game, make sure any pages you plan on donating to have that blue verified check mark on the top — otherwise, your money is probably going to some white Australian guy.
[Image via Black Lives Matter.]