Largest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was a scam being run by an Australian man
The page has now been suspended and all the online payment platforms associated with it — PayPal, Patreon, Donorbox and Classy — have stopped working with the bogus page.
Facebook's largest Black Lives Matter page is reportedly a scam, which was run by a middle-aged white man in Australia for at least a year.
The big reveal was made after CNN conducted a review of the page and associated accounts and websites, according to reports.
The page on the social networking site, called "Black Lives Matter" reportedly had nearly 700,000 followers compared to the 322,000 followers for the verified account with the same name.
Reports state that the Australian man, Ian Mackay, allegedly took over $100,000 in donations from across the world. Reports state that although most of the money supposedly went to black rights causes in America, some of it was traced back to Australia.
CNN reported that some of the money which was raised through the fake Facebook page went into a bank in Australia. Mackay is an official with the National Union of Workers (NUW) in Australia, however, he has been suspended pending a union probe.
National Secretary, Tim Kennedy, released a statement on Monday, saying: "The NUW is not involved in, and has not authorized, any activities with reference to claims made in CNN’s story."
Reports state that the man has multiple registered websites, many of which claim to be associated with black-rights issues.
Mackay had reportedly registered a website called blackpowerfist.com in April 2015 and his name, e-mail address, phone number and other details appeared in the registration records for the site until July 2015.
Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisee Cullors, commented on the incident, saying that she was troubled by the alleged scam and said that the donors give money to the cause believing it will be used in a respectful manner.
"We rely on donors who believe in our work and our cause and that [the] money will be used in a way that is respectful," Cullors said.
She told CNN that she had earlier contacted Facebook to remove the page, suspecting it was a scam, however, no action was taken then.
Another prominent member of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, DeRay McKesson, said that the rise of BLM has left it vulnerable to such scams.
McKesson said: "It’s important to remember the movement was organic and no organizations started the protests that spread across the country. The consequences of that is it hasn’t been easy to think about authenticity in the digital space."