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City warns of a Stephanie Rawlings-Blake impostor on Instagram

Baltimore officials Friday warned residents that someone was posing as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on the social network Instagram.

Using the Instagram handle 'mayorsrb,' the account promised college scholarships in exchange for email addresses, the city said. The mayor's office says no such program exists.

On Friday afternoon, the account had more than 2,000 followers. Pictures posted to the account include images of the mayor, Morgan State University and Harvard University. The account also lists the mayor's correct contact information, presumably to lend authenticity to the account.

"It's very unfortunate that someone would take the time to produce a hoax that misrepresents me and exploits a cause that is very important to Baltimore — all while playing with the emotions of prospective students seeking higher education," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.

Rawlings-Blake uses the same name on Twitter (mayorsrb). But Twitter has verified her identity on her account. The company started the verification service — which puts a blue-and-white check icon next to user names — for public figures and celebrities.

Instagram does not offer a similar verification system.

Caron Brace, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said the city contacted Instagram and asked that the account be taken down. By 7 p.m. Friday, Instagram had shut down the account.

"It is a violation of Instagram's policies to impersonate anyone," Alison Schumer, an Instagram spokewoman, said in a statement. "If you believe someone created an Instagram account to impersonate you, we encourage you to report it to us through our Help Center."

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