TIME Internet

This Guy Used Twitter to Trick a Town Into Thinking He Was Their Mayor

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A feat that's simultaneously very impressive and very troubling

Look, we’ve all fallen victim to a carefully crafted Twitter hoax. These things happen. So we’ll try not to rag on the residents of Stafford, England, too much for letting some guy with a fake Twitter account convince them he was their mayor. Especially because, from the looks of it, he was pretty darn convincing.

The man created a profile with the following bio: “I’m James Billington, the current Mayor of Stafford. Delighted to be representing the town of Stafford & surrounding areas. Views are my own.” He began tweeting on March 8, and soon enough, convinced residents and local businesses that he was the mayor.

The “mayor” posted pictures of himself doing very mayor-y things, like performing a ribbon-cutting at a new theme park:

At times, he went a bit over the top, but people continued to buy it:

Eventually, the Stafford Borough Council caught wind of the prank and asked Twitter to shut the account down, the Daily Mail reports. But at the time of writing, the account was still active.

For the record, the real mayor of Stafford is Labour councillor Angela Loughran. She’s held the role — which is largely ceremonial — for 10 months. Maybe this whole prank will encourage her to step up her mayoral game, because right now, it seems none of her constituents know who she is.

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