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British Teen Fools Soccer Players and Fans, Gains 20k Twitter Followers

The stock photo Gardiner used on his Twitter bio. The stock photo Gardiner used on his Twitter bio.

A 16-year-old soccer fan in London has recently been caught pretending to be a journalist on Twitter, but not before gaining 20,000 plus Twitter followers and even fooling a few professional soccer players.

According to the Financial Times, Samuel Gardiner started tweeting made-up soccer transfer rumors (the UK soccer equivalent of our “trade rumors”) in the fall of 2012 under the handle @SamuelRhodes_.

Claiming to be a “freelance writer” at the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times in his Twitter bio, Gardiner used a stock internet photo as his Twitter picture. When one of his guess rumors -- that the Chelsea would fire its manager Roberto Di Matteo -- actually came true, the fake journalist gained credibility.

His Twitter follows racked up, even as actual journalists from The Guardian tweeted online that “Samuel Rhodes” has no ties to the paper.

Last June, Gardiner’s con went to another level when James McArthur, who played for Wigan Athletic at the time, followed @SamuelRhodes_, and got him in touch with a teammate.

As recently as two weeks ago, @SamuelRhodes was still going strong with tweets. But Twitter finally paid attention to the many reports by actual Guardian reporters, and @SamuelRhodes was finally outed as a fake.

Not be confused with Sammy Rhodes, infamous American Twitter joke plagiarist.

[Financial Times, The Daily Mail]
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