More legal acrimony for Truth Social, as executive says he was hacked

person holding phone with icon for Truth Social visible

A board member of Trump Media & Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, has been accused of hacking one of the executives who helped bring the firm public as part of a corporate coup attempt, according to a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Florida.

Trump Media became a publicly traded company last month when it merged with Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC), a special purpose acquisition company. DWAC was first led by Patrick Orlando, one of the original architects of the deal to take Truth Social public. Orlando was fired in March 2023, after that deal was delayed, and replaced immediately by Eric Swider. That ouster is the focus of the lawsuit, which was filed in March of this year by a company Orlando controls called Benessere Investment Group.

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In its lawsuit, Benessere claims that Swider, who served as DWAC CEO from March 2023 to March 2024 and currently sits on Trump Media’s board of directors, plotted a “coup d’état” in order to oust Orlando as the CEO of DWAC. Benessere alleges that “defendants and other co-conspirators stole access to Plaintiffs’ computer systems and files and used the stolen information to attack Benessere and ARC II managing member, Patrick Orlando,” as part of an “audacious scheme to seize control of and enlarge their holdings in a publicly-traded company poised to merge with Trump Media & Technology Group Corp.” ARC II refers to ARC Global Investments II, a fund organized by Orlando which provided financing for the deal to take Truth Social public.

This lawsuit is the latest development in the legal acrimony among some original employees of the various companies associated with Truth Social, the people who have managed to stick around, and former president Donald Trump himself. Even before Trump’s Truth Social officially launched in early 2022, DWAC was beset by investigative probes, insider trading, and petty infighting. The company, which began trading publicly last month, is valued at more than $5 billion despite reporting just over $4 million in revenue in 2023. This wildly inflated valuation hangs over some of the recent lawsuits, as early employees of the company stand to make millions of dollars if they manage to hold on to their shares.

The lawsuit claims that after Orlando’s dismissal as CEO, Swider enlisted Orlando’s former personal assistant, Alexander Cano, to improperly gain access to a protected electronic storage account at tied to Benessere and ARC II that held Orlando’s confidential files, Mailchimp login information, and DocuSign accounts. Cano had access to the accounts in his capacity as Orlando’s assistant and continued to have access despite no longer being Orlando’s assistant or working at Benessere, the suit says.

“At some point during 2023, months after Cano had left Benessere, Orlando learned that he had been locked out of the Box Account and that Cano had seized total control of the Box Account as the administrator,” the suit alleges. “Cano without authorization accessed files, including, without limitation, files containing all information with regard to all investors as well as all financial and other confidential information not only of ARC II but also of Benessere.” The suit alleged that Cano then gave the “stolen information” to Swider.

Then, according to the Florida suit, Swider used Orlando’s stolen Mailchimp account credentials and listserv to send an email to ARC II investors in the Truth Social deal on March 5, attacking Orlando’s management of ARC II and DWAC, and his involvement in a separate lawsuit filed against DWAC the previous month.

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