Politician Gets By With a Little Help From Fake Facebook Girlfriends

In a delightfully bizarre local story, Santa Cruz City Council candidate Tim Goncharoff has gotten a lot of encouragement on Facebook from his female constituents when he was a Santa Cruz County resource planner. Too bad they're fake.

According to SantaCruz.com, in 2012 a bevy of women would share the same links from and post almost identical comments at the same time on Goncharoff's page. Most of these accounts featured stock photos of attractive women wearing lingerie:

The accounts have been largely inactive since 2012, but the pages are still up and can be easily searched on Facebook. They regularly communicate with one another, posting supportive comments on each other's half-nude photographs, asking for suggestions for where to get a Brazilian bikini wax and appearing to coordinate the sharing of lingerie outfits for something called the "Save the Tatas" fashion show. Time stamps on the threads of comments from the various accounts show that the comments are generally made within just a couple minutes of each other—about the amount of time it would take for one user to log in and out of multiple accounts.

Goncharoff also used these accounts to make it seem as if his causes were getting support, as in the example below.


The same accounts were used in 2012 to criticize a posting current county supervisor candidate Ryan Coonerty made about public safety.

"Being a woman of color, I can attest from personal experience to the power of prejudice," wrote one African American avatar, named Elisa Verde. A Google image search of Verde's photo leads to a stock photo entitled, "Beautiful Black Woman."

Creating fake identities to prop up an illusion of support is also known as sock-puppeting; other public figures have been investigated for sock-puppeting in the past.

Ever the helpful public servant, Goncharoff would post advice for these women, such as "Don't forget sunscreen for when you go skinny-dipping. Of course he denies creating these profiles, or even being Facebook friends with any of them.