Four unidentified players from the Washington Redskins had been having conversations with a fictitious online identity. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
This may sound familiar.
The NFL is reporting that at least four players from the Washington Redskins have been duped by a person operating a fictitious Twitter account, chatting online and receiving pictures from the person that the players believed to be a woman named Sidney Ackerman.
According to a report Wednesday from Jeff Darlington of NFL.com, the players were issued a warning in December from Philip Daniels, the team's director of player development, specifically about the person posing to be Ackerman under the Twitter handle, @RedRidnH00d. They were told to avoid all forms of contact with her:
"Once we found out the person wasn't real, we went from there," Daniels said.
The person used pictures of adult film star C.J. Miles to establish contact with the players and each of them carried on conversations with her for a number of months until they were warned in December. NFL security launched an investigation into the situation and the online profiles for Ackerman on Facebook and Twitter were subsequently deleted.
Daniels said he doesn't fault the players, instead pointing a finger to the people who operate the online accounts:
"If you think about it, a lot of them are single guys, and they see somebody who looks good in a picture or something. 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. But you're talking about a lot of guys who are single. I don't fault the guys. I fault the people who are doing this crazy stuff, causing these problems."
It turns out the person operating the online accounts is in fact a woman and a Redskins fan, but never asked for money or attempted to exploit the players or the NFL. Each of the players tried to arrange an in-person meeting with the woman, but it never happened. She had more than 17,000 followers on Twitter, which reportedly legitimized her in some way for the players involved.
Another Twitter account, @RideAndDieChick, had been identified by NFL.com earlier in January. Although this account is no longer active, the Twitter handle had been followed by 22 verified NFL players and six verified NBA players.