The Washington Redskins are dealing with their own case of identity deception, as several players tried to meet a woman after online conversations and discovered that the account they were interacting with was run by someone with a fake identity, according to Jeff Darlington of NFL.com:
NFL.com has learned that NFL security conducted an investigation into a situation involving a woman, known by the pseudonym Sidney Ackerman, who used pictures of an Internet adult entertainer, C.J. Miles, to establish dialogues with pro athletes.
On multiple occasions, several Redskins players attempted to arrange meetings with "Ackerman," but none of them succeeded, Daniels said. The numerous failed attempts led to suspicion, and Daniels then received some independent information about the possibility that "Ackerman" was indeed a fake.
Unlike Te'o, none of the Redskins players involved became emotionally attached to "Ackerman," instead pursuing her out of nothing more than physical appeal, sources close to the situation said. "Ackerman" also sent at least one player a pornographic video of Miles, which she also claimed to be of herself. On certain occasions, "Ackerman" also doctored photos of Miles in an attempt to personalize them and provide the athletes with a sense that she was indeed the person she claimed to be.
According to the NFL.com report, the team has learned 'Ackerman' is indeed a woman and a big Redskins fan. Like the Te'o situation, 'Ackerman' never asked for money or benefits and never attempted to threaten any of the players she was in contact with.
Under the Twitter handle, @RedRidnH00d, 'Ackerman' had accumulated 17,000 followers, but was not a verified user. Still the significant amount of followers created a false sense of legitimacy for the players. 'Ackerman' has since deleted her Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The NFL is still very concerned with this type of situation and is currently monitoring several other accounts of possible copycats.
With the football world still trying to digest the identity deception that has embarrassed Notre Dame’s star middle linebacker Manti Te’o (h/t NFL.com), this is a problem that goes much deeper than sports.
Until just a few days ago, most people had no idea what the term “catfish” meant (creating a fake identity with social media to lure victims using romantic undertones).
Should teams be more proactive in terms of identity deception?
The players shouldn’t be blamed for talking to women online if that is their choice, but it’s good to see they are being smart about their interactions. As we learned from Te’o’s incident, victims can fall in love with these fake identities, which can lead to emotional scarring.
These are cruel jokes that can go too far, and the Redskins players are smart to make their team aware of the danger and help them avoid it.