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12/19/2008
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'Wayne Gretzky' Twitter Page A Fake, NHL Says

League spokesman says posts on the microblogging service not really from The Great One.

A Twitter page featuring posts supposedly from Phoenix Coyotes coach and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky has appeared. The posts, however, are from a Gretzky impersonator, according to a National Hockey League spokesman.

"My NHL sources are telling me that, as suspected, @wayne_gretzky is not authentic," wrote NHL public relations director Michael DiLorenzo in his own Twitter post Friday.

Posts on the page, which bears the user name Wayne_Gretzky and a photo of No. 99, began appearing Thursday and mostly address the sort of routine, moment-to-moment issues that are typical of what's found on Twitter, which limits messages to 140 characters.

"A little cool in Scottsdale today but nothing like those poor folks back in Edmonton," reads one post. "Giving Tweeter on my blackbarry [sic] a try out," says another.

Some purport to reveal game information that an NHL head coach would be unlikely to disclose on the Internet. "I'm starting Bryzgalov again. He's playing well," says a post referring to Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

It appears the bogus Gretzky page has fooled a number of Twitter users. The page indicated that it had 222 followers as of Friday afternoon. The page is following back 21 Twitter users, most of whom appear to be attractive young women.

The fake page is the latest example of how impersonators can use the Internet to gain a following.

Over the years, celebrities ranging from Bill Gates to Madonna have had their identities purloined for spurious e-mails, Web sites, and other online activities.

Twitter itself does not take steps to verify user identities.

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