A fake Twitter account posing as a British journalist covering the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in India was busted by several Twitter users on Tuesday after it was found using a picture of man killed in a yacht accident in South Africa in 2016.
The handle @BrandonDav_ partially gave up the gag and added the word ‘comrade’ to its display name, after being outed.
Click here to view an archived version of the account.
A reverse image search of the account’s profile picture showed that it was misusing a photo of George Mills, a 61-year old Scottish citizen who died in a yacht accident in Cape Town, South Africa in 2016. The image was featured in an article by The Times.
The account flipped the orientation of the picture to trick search engines.
The fake handle using an alias ‘Brandon Davies’ was set up on March 30, 2019. The account’s bio described itself as a British nationalist covering elections in India. It also claimed to have voted in favour of Brexit.
While the account barely had over 900 followers at the time of writing this story, it came into focus for a tweet critical of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. That tweet alone had nearly 11,700 Likes .
It was also retweeted by Tajinder Bagga, a spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi, with a following of over half a million on Twitter.
I followed the 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014 Lok Sabha elections closely. After analyzing all of them, I can say that I have never seen a PM candidate as stupid as Rahul Gandhi.— Brandon Davies (@BrandonDav_) April 2, 2019
A screenshot of the tweet was also shared on Facebook where it received over 1500 shares.
The account is currently following Indian politicians, known right-wing Twitter handles and a few left-wing satire handles in India.
Another telltale sign that the account was fake was that it did not follow a single individual account from the UK. The only British accounts it was following were @KensingtonRoyal @10DowningStreet and the @RoyalFamily .
The fake account has now changed its profile picture to a photo of 62-year old Nigel Addison whose profile picture was stolen and misused by another fake troll account in the UK.