If while scrolling through Instagram you get a follow request from Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval, double check the account to verify it’s really him.
An imposter has set up a private account and has been lurking through people’s feeds (CityBeat staff included). If you don’t look too closely, it resembles the real deal except for one detail: the mayor’s actual account is @aftabpureval while the faker is @aftabpureval_ (note the sneaky underscore at the end of the tag).
But the accounts almost mirror each other.
The real Pureval has 10.5K followers and posts about Cincinnati City Council updates and other local efforts. His bio reads: "70th Mayor of Cincinnati. Ohio born and raised. Whitney’s husband, Bodhi’s dad, funnier in person. He/him. aftabformayor.com."
The fake Pureval has 13.4K followers and posts the exact same things as Pureval, just out of order. The imposter's bio reads: "70th Mayor of Cincinnati. Ohio born and raised. Whitney's husband, Bodhi's dad, funnier in person. He/him. Progressive and Profitable Agenda."
There are also photos of Pureval standing with people and zero informative captions. And a photo posted six days ago features Pureval posing with children during a Hughes v. Taft basketball game. It's a copy — both the photo and the caption — from a post the real Pureval made in January 2019.
The operator of the fake account has messaged new followers, sendings DMs with an enigmatic “Good day." The real Pureval has not said whether or not he opens his messages with a similar greeting, but he did tell CityBeat via email:
“I am aware of this fake account on Instagram and my team has reported it. My Instagram handle is @aftabpureval. This is my one and only account on the app. I am working on getting my account verified by Instagram to eliminate further confusion.”
Once Mayor Pureval’s account is verified by Instagram, the coveted little blue checkmark will appear next to his name, distinguishing the real account from imposters.
So while national intelligence reports did say Russia interfered with both the 2016 and 2020 American presidential elections, could this fake Pureval account be another way to try to undermine Western democracy? Or is it just a bot who enjoys amassing followers?
We have reached out to the fake Aftab about the purpose of the account and will update the story if we hear back. Good day. Stay connected with CityBeat. Subscribe to our newsletters, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google News, Apple News and Reddit.