A British email prankster successfully duped the top editorial team at right-wing news outlet Breitbart into taking part in increasingly outlandish conversations while posing as former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who had just returned to a leadership role at the website.
The fake emails, sent on 20 August using the address "email@example.com", tricked the website's current editor-in-chief, Alex Marlow, into offering to do Bannon's "dirty work" while touting plans to force Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner from the White House.
The full email chain was first shared with CNN and later posted to Twitter by the prankster himself, who tweets under the name @SINON_REBORN.
"Reading online about how I'll be bringing forth my wrath on Ivanka and Jared," read one email to Marlow under the guise of Steve Bannon.
"I'd be doing this great nation a service if I did," came the reply from Marlow, later adding: "You need to own that, just have surrogates do the dirty work".
And referencing Ivanka Trump and Kushner, the fake Bannon account asked: "So do you think you'll have them packed and shipping out before Christmas?"
Marlow wrote back: "Let me see what I can do [...] hard to know given your description of them as evil. I don't know what motivates them. If they are semi normal, then yes".
In another email chain, the prankster, who is self-described as a "lazy anarchist", appeared to trick Brietbart's senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak. "No one can figure out what [Ivanka Trump and Kushner] do," the real Pollak told fake Bannon, later handing out his phone number.
In a statement following the incident, Marlow told CNN: "The obsession with Breitbart News is simply a result of our effectiveness.
"An imposter deceitfully obtained and shared with CNN tongue-in-cheek emails that revealed that we feel Globalists present an existential threat to the agenda that got President Trump elected.
"If people want to know our thinking, they don't need to judge us on illicitly obtained comments that were intended to be private, they can simply read our front page".
The full chain, containing the overly-exaggerated claims from fake Bannon, can be seen below:
As it turns out, this is not the first time the prankster has tricked West Wing staffers into taking part in amusing conversations, which end up in the press.
Previously, he posed as former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and President Trump's son-in-law Kushner in order to dupe former press secretary Anthony Scaramucci and others. The White House has declined to comment on the content of the emails.
In early August, @SINON_REBORN also successfully targeted UK home secretary Amber Rudd.