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Two National Union of Workers officials in Perth WA have been suspended after it emerged that a fraudulent Black Lives Matter page had an Australia connection.

The National Union of Workers (NUW) has suspended two officials in West Australia after US news outlet CNN claimed that a Facebook page purporting to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement was a scam with ties to Australia.

CNN named one of the men as NUW offical Ian Mackay – who is white – and SBS News understands another male from the union was also suspended after the story broke.

The Facebook page titled “Black Lives Matter” had almost 700,000 followers, which was more than twice as many as the official page of Black Lives Matter, an activist movement that campaigns against violence and racism towards black people.

black-lives-matter-scam-screen-pic-image-www-scamsfakes-com

CNN reported on Monday that the page was connected “to online fundraisers that brought in at least $US100,000 (AUD$129,000) that supposedly went to Black Lives Matter causes in the US. At least some of the money, however, was transferred to Australian bank accounts”.

In a statement to SBS News, NUW national secretary Tim Kennedy confirmed that the union had “launched an investigation into claims made by a CNN report and has suspended the relevant officials pending the outcome of an investigation”.

“The NUW is not involved in and has not authorised any activities with reference to claims made in CNN’s story.”

SBS News has approaced Mr Mackay for comment. He denied running the page when contacted by CNN, but did not provide further comment.

The Facebook page has since been closed down and fundraising campaigns associated with the page were reportedly suspended by PayPal and Patreon. Donorbox and Classy had also removed the campaigns.

“Our objective is to raise awareness about racism, bigotry, police brutality and hate crimes by exposing through social media locally and internationally stories that mainstream media don’t,” a message on the group’s Donorbox page reportedly read.

A spokesperson for Facebook told SBS News that “we investigated this situation as soon as it was brought to our attention, and disabled the page admin for maintaining multiple profiles on the platform”.

“We continue to monitor the situation and will take the necessary action in line with our policies.”

SBS News has also reached out to Black Lives Matter in the US for comment.

It comes the same week as Mark Zuckerberg is set to appear before US politicians, where he will face a grilling about data that was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

www.crimefiles.net

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Henry Sapiecha

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