A fake Twitter account that claimed to be the official account of General James “Mad Dog” Mattis was shut down after Mattis himself confirmed that the account is not legitimate. The imposter attempted to cause a social media firestorm by posing as Mattis under the username @GenJMattis. The impostor posted a status claiming that he was officially appointed as Secretary of Defense. On Monday night the faux account Tweeted:
“President-elect phoned me announcing that he appointed me a Defense Secretary. Very honored. Thanks!”
Mattis met with president-Elect Donald Trump on Saturday to reportedly discuss the possibility of becoming Secretary of Defense but no official offer for the position has been made. The account was quickly shut down after Mattis confirmed it was fake.
The account lacked a blue checkmark that verifies that an account is legitimate and verified to belong to the personality it claims to be. However, the lack of this checkmark wasn’t enought to prevent Twitter users from being misled. Many fans of the real General Mattis celebrated the nomination prematurely.
Paul Szoldra, a veteran and Journalist at Business Insider, believes Tommasso Debenedetti is responsible for the account. Szoldra, unlike the fake Mattis account, sports a blue checkmark next to his username to confirm that he is Paul Szoldra.
Debenedetti is a school teacher from Rome that has operated several phony accounts in the past. He has made a living as a freelance writer selling fictitious interviews to conservative newspapers that failed to factcheck his work.