NEW BEDFORD — A fake Twitter account made to look like the official City of New Bedford account has apparently prompted an apology from a city official to Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.

An account called "City of New Bedford" with an icon showing the city's seal had tweeted "He should be fired," presumably about Hodgson, underneath a tweet from the New Bedford Light about the sheriff on Oct. 19.

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However, the fake account does not have the "verified" blue check mark that appears next to the actual official city account.

Close inspection also shows that, while nearly identical to the actual city account handle, the fake handle has two underscores instead of one.

Hodgson is running for his seat against Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux in the November general election in a race that has often become contentious.

His campaign published an email Thursday from New Bedford Director of Special Projects and Programs Janet Barbosa apologizing for any confusion.

"I wanted to let you know that yesterday, someone created a dummy City of New Bedford account on Twitter and is commenting on posts purporting to be the official account," Barbosa's email — as published by the Hodgson campaign — read.

"That comment is in no way affiliated with the City of New Bedford, or with the City of New Bedford's official account."

"I have reported both the account, and the post, to Twitter and am hoping they ban the account soon," Barbosa added, before signing off with an apology "for any inconvenience this may have caused!"

Barbosa did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the validity of the email as published by Hodgson's campaign.

 

In its message, the Hodgson campaign blamed supporters of his opponent, citing "dirty tricks" and "dirty politics."

"It is deeply disappointing someone is trying to mislead voters," Hodgson said in the email. "I have no proof that it is my opponent, but it is clearly designed to help his campaign."

The message also claimed that multiple online attacks have been made against the sheriff since May, although no evidence of the activity was shown.

The fake city Twitter account was created this month and has only tweeted twice, both replies made on Oct. 19.

Several minutes after apparently calling for Hodgson to be fired, the account also tweeted out criticism of the New Bedford High School boys' soccer team.

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