Some of Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters are falling prey to a new scheme sweeping the internet.
Suspected con artists have been peddling “Trump Bucks,” which have photos of the former president, and advertising them online as a kind of golden ticket that will help propel Trump’s 2024 bid and make the “real patriots” who support him rich when cashed in. The big problem? There is nowhere to cash the “Trump Bucks” in.
On social media and in promotional videos — many featuring faked celebrity endorsements — the sellers have managed to convince some consumers that the product is in some way connected to the former President. The sellers claim that after investing in the Trump Rebate Banking System, or TRB for short, Trump will reward their loyalty by making them rich once he re-enters the White House.
Invest in a TRB membership card “issued by Donald Trump,” the ads from Patriots Dynasty, Patriots Future, and USA Patriots claim, and the purchaser who spent, say, $99.99 on a “$10,000 Diamond Trump Bucks” bill will be able to cash it in for $10,000 at major banks and retailers like Walmart, Costco, and Home Depot.
“TRB system membership cards are official cards issued by Donald Trump to allow Trump Bucks holders to use Trump Bucks as legal tender and deposit them in banks such as JP Morgan Chase, the Bank of America, and Wells Fargo,” a narrator identified only as “John” that appears to be a computer-generated voice says in one YouTube ad just moments after cautioning viewers that “Trump Bucks are not legal tender.”
John Amann told NBC News he bought $2,200 worth of Trump Bucks and other items over the past year only to discover they were worthless when he tried to cash them in at his local bank.
NBC News has identified the Colorado-based companies behind the Trump Bucks as Patriots Dynasty, Patriots Future and USA Patriots and reviewed dozens of social posts, online complaints and hundreds of misleading ads for the products. Additionally, NBC News has found at least a dozen people like Amann who say they invested thousands of dollars after watching the pitches on Telegram and other websites that strongly suggested that Trump himself was endorsing these products.
“Now I’m questioning whether he is aware of this,” Amann said of Trump.
The Federal Trade Commission, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from NBC News, confirmed it has received one fraud complaint against Patriots Dynasty that was filed in January. But it provided no further details about the single complaint or who filed it.
Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin told NBC News that he’d heard reports from bank employees of customers coming in to exchange their Trump Bucks for actual cash, but the bank routinely turns them down and he’s unsure of the number of individuals who have made the request.
“We don’t have any connection to this, and it isn’t a problem we’re seeing at our stores,” Home Depot spokesman Terrance Roper said in an email to NBC News.