And They Didn’t Even Get Their Shirts!

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I mentioned earlier that a number of publications, including TPM, have now spoken to the young New Jersey woman who is somehow involved in the “ProTrump45” Trump merchandise scam and was the basis of the “Nicole Mincey” persona. Her story keeps changing, with references to other fictive personalities, contradictory claims about money that was involved, how she became involved and so forth. She has insisted through multiple interviews that she only got involved because of her support for Trump and never received any money. In the latest interview, which I discuss below, she claims she left the scam group in June because, “the store was getting disorganized. They weren’t keeping up with the orders. I wasn’t getting paid.”   The evolving story has all the hallmarks of a band of grifters, of uncertain size and collective intelligence, scrambling for cover stories.

But now Yahoo Finance adds a new, altogether mundane and predictable dimension of the story. If you sent money to these grifters you apparently didn’t even get your knock off MAGA hat or shirt!

The ultimate indignity! In Trump’s America you can’t even rely on scam artists to send you the unauthorized, low quality knock-off Trump shirt you paid for.

Yahoo was apparently on this early, back in July, before the Trump RT firestorm.  So they were able to attempt to order a flag before Trump’s RT blew the lid off the operation. But the flag never arrived. And when they checked, it turned out that the UPS tracking number they received was itself a fake.

Yahoo Finance ordered a flag from to see if it would arrive as promised in 7 to 10 days. The site took our money, through a PayPal account — $30 for the flag, $15 for shipping and $2.40 for tax, for a total of $47.40. But no flag ever arrived. We did get a notice, however, saying, “Your order is on its way,” along with a UPS tracking number. When we contacted UPS, a spokesman told us the tracking number was bogus and the order had been “stopped as fraud.” We did a “who is” search looking up registration details for the Web site and found it had been registered anonymously through a Florida company called Perfect Privacy, essentially masking the site’s real owners.

Later when Yahoo was emailing with someone who identified themselves with the “Lorraine Elijah” persona, they got this explanation.

When asked about the flag Yahoo Finance ordered from the web site, which never arrived, she said, “William forgot to mail it out.” She did not answer questions about who she and William really are, where they are located, or whether they made any money off the ProTrumpo45 web site. She did say a Washington Post story suggesting Nicole Mincey’s creator is a Russian is “bullshit.” “I live in America and have never been out of the country. William is also American. So [are] the rest of members whose names im [sic] not disclosing.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, when you set up a merch store with an automated storefront like they did, you’re not mailing out the flags from home. It’s all done from the vendor who actually produces the clothes and is responsible for shipping them. In theory, sure, maybe the grifters behind these fictive personalities made a big order of various Trump branded clothing and then shipped them out piecemeal to buyers, slowing recouping their big upfront investment. But please, pretty obviously this is just another nonsensical cover story tied to this scam. The big question frankly is why anyone is even answering the emails.

The “William” mentioned here is the “William Bryd” (sic) persona, one of the three accounts I flagged Saturday evening, the persona who identified himself as a “doctorate degree holder.” His account and others in the network seem to have had other motives than just turning a quick buck off the scam store. They also were tied to numerous white nationalist accounts. As with most things in the Trump era, this one really does look like grift all the way down. But the white nationalist dimensions still make me wonder whether there wasn’t a bit more to it.

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