How Steve Bannon's Alleged 'We Build the Wall' Scam Worked - 2020-08-20
Federal prosecutors in New York charged Steven Bannon and three others on Thursday with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. At the center of the charges is We Build the Wall, a crowdfunded organization that promised to do what Bannon said President Trump couldn't: build a privately funded wall along America's border with Mexico.
Bannon and his alleged co-conspirators built some short sections of wall in New Mexico and Texas, but prosecutors say they also skimmed millions from the donations. "The defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction," Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said in a press release. "While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle."
Prosecutors allege Bannon raked in $1 million and that one of his co-conspirators splashed out vast sums on high living, buying a golf cart, jewelry, and even plastic surgery. Kolfage alone allegedly skimmed $350,000 from the fund.