RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A fake Instagram account popped up under the guise of the Rio Rancho Police Department, and the people behind the fake account were posting almost every day for a week before anyone noticed.
“It’s incredibly easy,” Jordan Scott, UNM’s Social Media Manager, said. “You can just get their logo on their website or through a simple Google search.”
According to Scott, it’s just too easy these days to impersonate someone or something on social media–and that’s exactly what happened to the Rio Rancho Police Department.
“Every agency, brand, company wants to be able to curate their own content and make it in line with whatever they say goes with whatever other platforms they have,” Scott said.
That includes Rio Rancho Police. The department has a Facebook page and Twitter account, and as of last week, an Instagram account popped up with its logo and name. However, according to a city spokesperson, they never created it.
The people behind the fake account posted about potential crime in neighborhoods and even upcoming community events, but still the city said dummy accounts can be dangerous.
“If you find an interesting post, if the photo is blurry, if captions are misspelled, there are grammatical issues,” Scott said those all should be red flags for the user.
Monday, a post from the fake account had one too many grammatical mistakes and followers took notice. By Tuesday, the name of the account had changed with an explanation that reads, “This page is not owned by Rio Rancho Police,” and that the person behind the account was just trying to keep the community informed.
The city said Rio Rancho police is looking into the fake account, and that all their social media accounts can be verified on the city’s website.