News that the "Gay Girl in Damascus" was actually a straight, married white male was only the latest proof that you really can't trust who anyone says they are on the internet. Even Anthony Weiner, widely considered the least internet privacy savvy figure around, managed to avoid one major pitfall, it seems. A conservative group, which calls itself the #bornfreecrew, was heavily involved with monitoring Weiner on Twitter, and the New York Times reports that it was contacted by fake identities created to gather evidence against Weiner. This is their story.
The girls: "Nikki Reid," supposedly a 16-year-old California high school girl (Twitter handle @starchild111), her mother "Patricia Reid," and "Marianela Alicea," her classmate.
The seduction: Reid's account, which was deleted two weeks ago, was created in September. but had little activity until March when she launched a campaign to get Weiner to be her prom date at Hollywood High School in May. She tweeted comments like “Will you be my prom date @RepWeiner.”
The trap: It worked, as far as we know, to the extent that Weiner began following her on Twitter ("Tweeps my progressive idol @RepWeiner is following me. Today is the best day ever!”) When Mike Stack, a 39-year-old member of the #bornfreecrew, saw this, he sent her a message that said he thought it was "creepy" that Weiner was following a minor. (Admittedly, his message to this "high school girl" sounds pretty creepy as well). But within days of this, his group was contacted by another Twitter user claiming to be Reid's classmate, Marianela Alicea, who said she had "incriminating evidence" about Weiner, but never provided any. The user stopped communicating with Stack and vanished.
Nikki Reid also tried to contact at least three other women Weiner was communicating with, including Gennette Cordova, the 21-year-old college student, Ginger Lee, the 24-year-old porn star, and the 17-year-old Delaware high school student who exchanged five private messages with Weiner, although her family maintains they did not include indecent or explicit material.
The twist: At this point things get a bit hazy. Nikki Reid and a woman claiming to be her mother contacted blogger Tommy Christopher at Mediaite. The woman dismissed claims of incriminating evidence against Weiner and actually accused members of the #bornfreecrew of harassing her daughter and her daughter’s friend.
How they were caught: Weiner himself stopped following Reid after he was tipped off by Cordova, who said there was something "weird" about Reid's exchanges with her. On top of Reid asking Cordova pointed questions like "How did you get him to follow you?" Cordova saw other signs of fraud, including this gem, according to the Times:
[She] made references to “The O.C.,” the television show (featuring the young Hollywood actress Nikki Reed) that was popular among teenagers but ended in 2007.
“There is no way this girl is in high school,” Ms. Cordova said. “No way.”
Later, when Reid's "mother" contacted Christopher at Mediaite, he insisted the woman provide documentation confirming her identity. The woman faxed over a copy of a California driver’s license with her name, Patricia Reid, at a Los Angeles address, as well as school identification for the girls. But it turns out that the driver’s license and the school identification were fake,
Pretty elaborate! Despite all of this effort, it's amazing that Weiner was, no pun intended, impaled upon his own sword by accidentally tweeting the lewd photo by himself.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.