Iraq vet Brian Kolfage arrested for fraud in 'build the wall' scam

Jack Murphy
August 20, 2020 - 12:26 pm
Brian Kolfae

US Air Force

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Former Trump administration strategist Steve Bannon and Iraq war veteran Brian Kolfage have been arrested and indicted in Manhattan along with colleagues Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea in relation to their “We Build the Wall” Gofundme campaign which raised over 25 million dollars. The campaign has since been deleted by Gofundme with Kolfage claiming censorship by the online platform.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said of the case, "As alleged, 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. 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."

Authorities allege that the four men made fake invoices and conspired to steal at least some of the funds for their own use. "This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist," Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said in a press release. They allege that Kolfage took $350,000 for his personal use while Bannon claimed over a million dollars through a non-profit he ran to cover his personal expenses. 

They have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, and are facing up to 20 years in prison. 

This isn't the first time Kolfage has been in trouble as it has been previously reported that he has, "a history of scamming would-be donors. Kolfage previously led a crowdfunding charge that claimed to raise money for veterans at military hospitals, but a spokesperson for the medical facilities told Buzzfeed News they have no record of Kolfage donating a penny."

As Connecting Vets reported at the time, donors to the build the wall campaign were supposed to be refunded as per GoFundMe policy but Kolfage got creative and gave donors the option to instead give to his non-profit We Build the Wall, Inc.

"As everyone knows, President Trump has no involvement in this project and felt it was only being done in order to showboat, and perhaps raise funds," White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said upon news of the arrests. "President Trump has not been involved with Steve Bannon since the campaign and the early part of the Administration, and he does not know the people involved with this project," she said.

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Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.