A Facebook profile masquerading as All Black Conrad Smith is duping the public with promises of signed jerseys and school appearances - and the man himself is not impressed.
The real Conrad Smith had to step in and save the day this week when the impersonator promised Hauraki Plains College in north Waikato that the All Black would pop in for a chat.
"They were a bit upset when I didn't turn up," Smith said. "I don't have any social media accounts, so when people pointed it out to me, I thought it was a bit strange."
An email exchange provided to The Dominion Post shows the person behind the Conrad Smith page clearly pretending to be the 77-test veteran, promising to make the deputy principal's dreams come true by presenting her with a signed photo.
"Just a bit busy at the moment with super rugby and everything, but once that's all over I'm sure I can pop in," the email says.
When he found out, Smith signed a Hurricanes jersey and sent it up to Hauraki Plains College.
He said he was made aware of a fan page a few years ago. But at the time, the description made it very clear he had nothing to do with it.
Now there is nothing on the page to indicate the profile is not the real Conrad Smith's.
"At some point, somebody else has obviously taken over and is putting it out there that it's actually me," he said. "A lot of people are buying into it."
Smith had no idea who was behind the fake account, saying it must be someone with too much time on their hands.
"I've had a look at it and I would've thought it was obvious it wasn't me," he said.
"Some of the posts are pretty ridiculous. They're things I'd never say."
Much of the text on the page makes it appear that Smith is behind it, including one post describing the excitement before a test match against England.
"Can't wait to run [out] in front of the crowd in Dunedin, hopefully one of the Dunedin students gives me a cold Speights after the game. See you there!"
The Facebook site links to unofficial pages for other All Blacks.
Smith said whoever was behind his fake page had used pictures and videos taken from the Hurricanes website and other social media.
He called on the creator to take it down, or, at the very least, to stop impersonating him.
"I realise it's pretty hard to stop these people doing what they're doing . . . but surely they've got better things they could be doing with their time.
"I can see the funny side of it, in a way . . . but when they're duping people into thinking it's me, then it's not on."
- The Dominion Post
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