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Fake Twitter account of US mayor sparks police raid

Published time: April 18, 2014 10:47
Reuters/Eric Thayer

Reuters/Eric Thayer

A fake Twitter feed made to look like it belonged to Peoria’s mayor prompted a police raid. The account was flagged up by police for tweeting about sex, drugs and the exploits of ex-Toronto mayor Rob Ford who admitted to smoking crack last year.

What started off as an internet prank led to a raid and several people being questioned in Peoria, Illinois. Police launched a probe in the town in connection with a phony Twitter account that was created under the name of the mayor, Jim Ardis.

Twitter initially suspended the account earlier this year, but a case was opened because impersonating a public official is a criminal offense punishable with a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.

In connection with the case, police in Peoria burst into a house on Tuesday, seizing phones, computers and arresting three individuals. One of the people brought in for question was eventually charged with possession of marijuana.

“They brought me in like I was a criminal,” said Michelle Pratt, a 27-year-old resident who was in the shower when officers arrived at the house, to AP.

The local police force said they do not have any suspects at the present time, but they have reason to believe the perpetrator lives in the area.

“We’re just still in investigation mode and don’t have a suspect in custody,” said Lieutenant Willie King to the LA Times. “We have a couple of forensic guys that do this type of crime investigation. If they come up with things, we look into them.”

The Twitter account in question had around 50 tweets as well as 50 followers. Some of the Tweets that had been posted contained references to sex and drugs and the antics of disgraced, former mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford who admitted to smoking crack whilst “in a drunken stupor” last November.

Twitter allows parody accounts to be created and used, but clearly states in its user policy that there must be a clear mention on the account showing it is a hoax. The phony account reportedly used a picture of the Peoria mayor and neglected to mention the page was in fact a fake.