QAnon, Identity Theft, and the Progressive Candidate
A central figure in the QAnon conspiracy theory has been revealed to be former progressive Green Party Candidate, Ray Parrish. The failed Arizona Congressional candidate may be responsible for assuming someone else’s identity online in order to earn revenue through his affiliate programs. Posing as Vincent Fusca, a Pennsylvania GOP delegate, Parrish has fooled the entire following of the fringe conspiracy movement. And the details of his identity were in plain sight, available on the very same social media platform used to sustain the lie.
The QAnon conspiracy is all-encompassing. And last year, the theory that J.F.K. Jr. was still alive merged into the movement and was quickly propelled into prominence by the followers. In a separate board on 8chan, a user by the name of “RAnon” was created to float this theory. Shortly thereafter, the Twitter user theRealRaNon (archive) emerged making the definitive association to the board owner. (We will not be linking to 8chan for its history of child pornography and racially charged content, source on this statement can be found on episode 19 of the QAnon Anonymous podcast). The man pictured, and the identity assumed here, is that of Vincent Fusca, a Pennsylvania GOP delegate who garnered national attention when his “Trump Mobile” was featured on local news.
Using strange tweets found by Twitter user JenniferTxGirl, and a search-by-date syntax, I learned very fast who the account was actually run by. We’ll have to rely partly on archived tweets here. Since I hinted publicly that this account was in question, Parrish has started to delete some of the ones that prove his identity. But in September 2016, he tweeted (archive) to the Coconino Sheriff to “Stand with me in District One for Congress”. And in an earlier tweet, recognized the challenges of running as “green” in “rural/red Arizona”. Later tweeting (archive) his own campaign advertisement to Gary Kiehne asking “Who is the real Progressive” with the Medicare for All hashtag. And up until assuming Fusca’s identity, Parrish’s old timeline is littered with Progressive talking points and urging people to “‘Vote Green’ in 2020”. (archive)
Originally, I gave Parrish the benefit of the doubt and thought it could be entirely coincidental. Perhaps he assumed the username of “therealRaNon” and had no idea another “RaNon” had emerged in the QAnon community. A cursory search shattered that theory. And even when rally goers publicly addressed the twitter account claiming to have seen Fusca at a Trump rally, his reply was “which one?” (archive). And never spoke up when users sent birthday wishes to his account, acting as JFK Jr/Vincent Fusca. (archive). At this point the account owner is accepting of the premise: They are claiming to be Vincent Fusca and are also claiming to be JFK Jr. Neither is true.
Reverse Engineering, Solar Panel Sales, and the Detail of Previous User IDs
So why was this so hard to find? After all, the QAnon community claims to be superior researchers. Surely, they would have, and could have, vetted this figure that popped up seemingly out of nowhere. The answer is simple: the Twitter username changed. And that can make searches tenuous. Adding date ranges and reply syntax to a search can reveal changed usernames and conversations that may only exist in replies, if the original tweet has been deleted. It will also automatically break the link to the old username- while still showing it — and associate the thread with the new username. This is how I discovered his past usernames for promoting green energy via affiliate links.
The Twitter ID 41154742 is assigned to therealRaNon. It’s an old ID. My Twitter ID is 935365484718931969 and the account is just over 1 year old. So, having such a low user ID I figured there must be a history of tweets available. And in fact, this is where we find the old usernames for therealRaNon. They were: “newworldsolar2”, “renewenergytv”, “RayandJill2016” (“Jill” being Green party candidate Jill Stein), and “RayParrishAZ”. An example is to search tweets to “therealRaNon” up until 2017. Here you will see direct replies to the previous account usernames-accounts which the link is broken-but Twitter has replaced the new username because the user ID has never changed. In a dated search, we see examples to “RayParrishAZ” where he is the only one replied to. The name is no longer clickable, but it has been relocated as a reply to “theRealRaNon” here. (archive). A good single example would be from Emery Cowen in 2016. Notice she is responding to Ray Parrish only, but “therealRaNon” is responding. (archive)
Where it gets interesting is when we see the actual engagement and reveal Parrish’s other account and side business, DIY Solar. (archive) Early in his Twitter career, Parrish spent some time replying to himself and promoting solar energy to himself. DIY Solar often retweeting Parrish’s tweets and engaged in conversation that is exclusive to the two accounts. The DIY Solar Twitter account contains a domain name diysolarenergyforum.com, which is, in fact, owned and operated by Parrish (archive). The web address redirects to a free forum, where Parrish is in fact the admin, and who’s face will pop up when hovering over an admin post. But the actual domain registry is under his name.
What I find more interesting is the business is listed as a DBA under “New World Media”. An interesting tidbit given Parrish’s timing to enter into the QAnon foray. The timing of when Parrish came in pretending to be Vincent Fusca correlates well with the large social media push for the QAnon conspiracy into the mainstream. In the same 60-day period we see the emergence of other figures that gained instant prominence in the movement; something that will be revealed in depth in the coming weeks.
Why Vincent Fusca?
Short answer: an easy target plus opportunity to capitalize on a movement. In July of 2018, the Pennsylvania GOP delegate was featured in local media for the investment he made in turning his van into a mobile Donald Trump advertisement. Given his age range and the fact that he was not an avid user of social media, he could safely have his identity stolen and used for any purpose an offender desired. What troubles me is that Ray Parrish has only used social media for his own personal and financial gain. That holds true now that his profile has his main url as an Amazon affiliate link. What is also in question is how Amazon will deal with this issue. Their affiliate link is being used to sell products from a man claiming to be someone he is not. And all of the traffic going through his page and to Amazon is based on that blatant lie.