A man who calls himself James Billington used Twitter to fool an entire town in England into believing he was their mayor.
Under the Twitter handle @mayorofstafford, it says Billington is "delighted to be representing the town of Stafford & surrounding areas."
He posted pictures of himself wearing a mayoral chain, performing a ribbon cutting ceremony at Alton Towers Theme Park and passing out “I’m the mayor of Stafford!” buttons.
In another photo he’s cheering on runners in a half marathon. He wore a livery collar in photos where he congratulated elderly residents on their birthday.
Since his first tweet on March 8, locals, politicians and businesses were all fooled. Apparently no one remembered they already had a mayor. Her name is Angela Loughran.
It wasn’t until the town council spotted the hoax that the town realized they were duped.
"I feel so stupid, I believed [James Billington was mayor.] How many people know the name of their town mayor? There was no reason to disbelieve him," said Stafford resident Bal Singh.
The council has requested the Twitter account be shut down, but it’s still alive and well, perhaps because Billington is not doing anything illegal. He's not impersonating a real person, only lying about his position. Twitter users are allowed to make parody accounts.
In fact, Billington’s tweets are quite friendly and encouraging.
@SueLee99 a lovely idea you lovely person
— Mayor of Stafford (@mayorofstafford) March 28, 2014
The account has more than 550 followers.
The Midlands town has a population of 122,000.