Ohio man charged in scheme using Black Lives Matter to defraud donors out of $450k, enrich himself

A federal grand jury has returned indictments against an Ohio man who is charged with one count of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.

According to a Justice Department press release, grand jurors in Cleveland returned indictments against Tyree Conyers-Page, who goes by Maejor Page, for allegedly creating a 501(c)(3) Facebook account titled “Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta,” and then using it to defraud donors out of $450,000 after the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status.

“These allegations involve fraudulent misrepresentations that the donations received would support Black Lives Matter (Atlanta, Georgia) when, as stated in the indictment, those funds were actually used by the defendant for personal expenses he incurred in Toledo and elsewhere,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan said in a statement.

“It is our sincere hope that these charges help raise awareness about online scams and efforts by some to exploit the name and purpose of non-profit organizations for personal gain,” Brennan added.

From about May 2020 to the end of September, according to the indictment, Page allegedly concocted a scheme to defraud donors by portraying his 501(c)(3) Facebook account as a vehicle to raise funds to combat racial and social injustices.

However, the indictment states, the organization was no longer deemed an established charity and as such, Page allegedly used hundreds of thousands in donations for personal items.

Page allegedly created the Facebook page around Feb. 18, 2016, and summarily filed as a charitable organization with the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division then taking on the role of CEO.

But the IRS revoked the organization’s tax-exempt status in May 2019 after the group failed to file the required paperwork to the agency for three consecutive years. In August of that year, the non-profit corporation was “administratively dissolved” by Georgia officials, the press release stated.

The grand jury indictment alleges that Page then failed to notify Facebook that his organization’s tax-exempt status had been revoked or to ask that the social media platform stop displaying Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta as a non-profit group.

As such, “BMLGA’s Facebook page continued to be displayed as a non-profit organization with a donation button through the end of September 2020, and Facebook continued to collect and disperse the purported charity donations on a bi-monthly basis,” the press release said.

Page regularly made posts on his Facebook page regarding social justice issues in an attempt, prosecutors believe, to perpetuate “the false pretense and representation” that he was still operating as a non-profit, according to the press release.

Page was arrested and charged by the FBI in September. An affidavit filed at the time claimed he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on personal items like suits as well as purchases of property.

“It is alleged that the defendant used a substantial portion of the funds donated to BLMGA to buy personal items, including entertainment, hotel rooms, clothing and firearms,” the press release said, adding that the largest expenditure was for a property in Toledo, Ohio.

“Page is accused of using unprecedented tensions and uncertainty due to widespread civil unrest and a global pandemic to fill his own bank account,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith said. 

“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,” Smith added. “The FBI will continue efforts to root out fraudsters who victimize our fellow citizens for personal gain.”

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Jon Dougherty

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