Shades of Manti Te’o: Washington Redskins Bamboozled by Twitter Fraudster ‘Sidney Ackerman’
Hot on the heels of the Manti Te’o ‘catfishing’ scandal comes news that at least four Washington Redskins players were duped by a provocative poseur using a stolen photo of a popular porn star to lure them into an online relationship.
NFL.com reports that the a woman– and it has been confirmed that the hoaxer is indeed female– who went by the pseudonym Sidney Ackerman stole a racy photo of adult entertainer C.J. Miles and lured several Redskin players into casual online relationships. But unlike celebrated Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who developed a strong emotional bond with a woman who didn’t exist, the Redskin players were only attracted to ‘Sidney’ on a purely physical level.
The players and the would-be catfisher communicated mostly via Twitter, where she went by the handle @RedRidnH00d, although ‘Sidney’ sometimes sent photos of Miles to players’ cell phones. She even sent at least one player a pornographic video of Miles that she tried to pass off as her own. When players attempted to arrange meetings with the sexy woman they thought they’d been messaging with, plans always fell through, raising suspicions that something was rotten in Denmark.
Philip Daniels, the Redskins’ director of player development, began receiving information that led him to believe ‘Sidney’ was a fraud. The NFL also began investigating the woman and soon concluded that she was indeed fake. By mid-December, Daniels had posted a memo on the wall of the team locker room advising players to avoid ‘Sidney.’
“Stay away from @RedRidnH00d,” the memo warned. “Avoid her on Twitter. Avoid her on Instagram. Do not converse with this person on any social media platform. She is not who she claims to be.”
Daniels said he understood how easy it could be for players to get bamboozled online.
“If you think about it, a lot of them are single guys, and they see somebody who looks good in a picture or something,” Daniels told NFL.com. “In many cases it involves someone who is a fan of the team, so they’ll start talking about the team. You have to recognize that something just isn’t right.”
“I don’t fault the guys,” he added. “I fault the people who are doing this crazy stuff, causing these problems.”
Daniels said that the woman pretending to be ‘Sidney’ did not try to get money, tickets or any other benefits from the players with whom she communicated, nor did she try to exploit them in any way. She is a die-hard Redskins fan.
“I think it was all about attention,” Daniels told NFL.com. “It was just about being able to talk to them, pretending to be someone they aren’t. It was never a situation where guys were giving money or anything like that.”
NFL.com reports that ‘Sidney,’ who had amassed more than 17,000 Twitter followers, has since deleted the @RedRidnH00d account.
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