Back in December, before the world knew about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's "catfish" hoax, a different online female persona was targeting several players on the Washington Redskins.
Someone with the user name @RedRidnH00d, also known by the pseudonym Sidney Ackerman, had reached out to at least four Washington Redskins players on social media sites, using photos of adult film star C.J. Miles to establish a dialogue with players that lasted on and off for months, NFL.com reported
Ackerman had collected more than 17,000 followers on Twitter, which made the persona believable to the players, sources told NFL.com. Much of the communication was via Twitter, but Ackerman reportedly sent photos to some of the players' cell phones as well
On multiple occasions, several Redskins players attempted to arrange meetings with Ackerman, but none of them succeeded, Phillip Daniels, the team's director of player development, told NFL.com. The numerous failed attempts led to suspicion, and Daniels then received some independent information about the possibility that Ackerman was indeed a fake.
Another Twitter account, @RideAndDieChick, also used Miles' pictures as an avatar and was followed by 22 verified NFL players and six verified NBA players, but it wasn’t revealed whether the same person was behind both fake personas. A memo posted in the Redskins locker room in mid-December from Daniels warned players to stay away from the fake identities.
"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."
NFL security conducted an investigation into Ackerman and revealed that the woman behind the scheme is a diehard Redskins fan. She never asked for money or benefits, nor did she attempt to threaten or exploit any of the players, according to NFL.com.
"I think it was all about attention," Daniels said. "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."
Ackerman's Facebook and Twitter accounts have since been deleted.
The Redskins incident is similar to the much-publicized Te'o story, which broke last week. The Notre Dame football star's tale of his girlfriend Lennay Kekua dying from leukemia captured the nation's attention until Deadspin revealed that the girl wasn’t real.
Te'o maintains that he didn’t know about the hoax and claims he simply tailored his story about having met her in person.
Te'o will tell his side of the story Thursday on Katie Couric's syndicated daytime talk show "Katie" on ABC. It will be his first on-air interview since news about the hoax broke..
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