Social media fakes of premier proliferate

Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin is apparently being impersonated all over the internet.

Over the past year, a number of reports have been made to various social media sites regarding fake accounts pretending to be operated by, or on behalf of, Mr. McLaughlin.

The most recent example was reported to Instagram the week of Oct. 9 to 13. The account in this case was obviously a fake. The name attached to it was the “Hon. Alden McLaughli” [sic] and the page contained more than a dozen photos of the premier, most of which came from official events, such as press conferences or media photo ops.

Mr. McLaughlin’s press secretary Tammie Chisholm confirmed last week that the Instagram account was bogus and that it had been reported to the company. By Friday, the Instagram page was still in operation and had nearly 500 followers.

Other attempts to impersonate the premier have been more sinister. In October 2016, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Financial Crime Unit issued a public warning about a fake Facebook page, purporting to belong to Mr. McLaughlin.

Police said that page, which had nothing to do with the premier, was being used in attempts to fraudulently solicit donations and bank account numbers from individuals who were “friended” by the fake account.

The page was removed from Facebook and RCIPS investigators noted it appeared no one had been defrauded.

“However, new fraudulent pages may appear,” a police statement noted.

In July, a bogus Twitter account purporting to represent Mr. McLaughlin was also confirmed as a fake.

The false account @Ky1McLaughlin was sending out tweets and interacting with users. The account’s profile described the owner as being Alden McLaughlin, “Premier of the Cayman Islands since 2013. McLaughlin serves as leader of the People’s Progressive Movement in the Cayman Islands.”

Mr. McLaughlin is hardly the first Cayman Islands or international politician to be impersonated on social media.

Likely the most well-known incident in Cayman occurred during 2011, when a Twitter account opened under the user name ‘McKeevaBush345’ operated as an “impersonation,” according to a statement from then-Premier Bush’s press secretary. The Twitter account used an official photograph of the former premier, as well as containing a “bio” that reads in part: “I’m from West Bay aka Republic/Gazza.

“That means ‘me alone run tings’, if you don’t know then you’d better ask somebody.”