QAnon followers flocked to the Telegram social media platform after other sites purged their accounts following the Capitol insurrection -- and many were excited to learn Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were active users there.
The former president and "Lady Melania Trump," as the account was called, were joined by Air Force General John Hyten, who began issuing QAnon-style statements from the app, and they were promoted by pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood -- which caused many to believe they were genuine despite Telegram marking them as fakes, reported The Daily Beast.
"Melania is a genius," Wood posted Jan. 18 on his verified Telegram account. "A beautiful genius. And she loves her husband and her son. They are geniuses too."
Telegram has added red "SCAM" warnings to some of the bogus accounts, including one impersonating former secretary of state Mike Pompeo that has accumulated more than 16,000 followers, but the Hyten and both Trump accounts have been deleted.
However, a fake account purporting to be birther conspiracy theorist Tom McInerney, a retired Air Force general who frequently appears on Alex Jones' InfoWars program, remains on the platform with 158,000 followers -- despite his disavowal of the account on a January internet radio apperance.
The bogus McInerney account circulated a discredited hoax claiming that Hillary Clinton had been caught on tape gruesomely brutalizing a child, and makes other wild claims aimed at building up a base of QAnon followers in an apparent effort to make money off the social media notoriety.
The fake Telegram accounts have already become more popular than genuine Trump allies such as Roger Stone, who has fewer than 30,000 followers, and InfoWars sidekick Paul Joseph Watson, who has 43,000 followers -- much to the chagrin of right-wing figures who had built up large followings on other platforms before they were chased off by the hosts.
"Someone somewhere is trying to mind f*ck us," griped popular QAnon promoter Jordan Sather.