Fake Twitter account claims schools are closed

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 06:56:12-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A bogus Twitter account has surfaced posing as the Lee County School District, claiming that school was canceled on Monday.

The bogus account looks exactly like Lee County School's official Twitter account, @LeeSchools, but is spelled with two S's, @LeeSchoolss. They even use the official account's emblem and biography. Their first and only tweet states: "School is canceled on Monday 1/22/17 due to tornado warnings and severe weather, stay safe students!"

When searching Lee County Schools on Twitter, the tweet appears as one of the first, blending in with other tweets by the official Lee County Schools account.

Besides the fact that the 22nd was a Sunday, parents told Fox 4 given the weather conditions Sunday, the tweet could be believable. "Very skilled hackers send out things that are very realistic and unfortunately people don't know the difference," said Madlyn Dornaus.

Skilled hackers, or just some students trying to cut class? "They can be very skilled too," said Dornaus laughing. "I have two fourteen-year-old grandchildren and they know more than I do."

Others said it was easy to tell the account was a fake. "No, not in the wording," said Adriana Marrone.

But she adds that some people could fall for it.  "Parents aren't necessarily inclined to know a lot about the internet, so if they're not familiar with Twitter and stuff like that, yeah you could believe it."

So how can you be sure information from your district is legitimate? The Lee County School District calls the tweet someone's wishful thinking and sent out the following statement:

"If the district has emergency information like this to send out we do it in a multitude of ways: phone calls, text messages, emails, app pushes, website alerts on all the school pages and district website and social media.  We also notify local media as well in order to get the word out to our parents, staff, students and the community."