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Frankston blog hoax scrambles LA cops December 9, 2007

Posted by cyberpatrol in 4chan.org, Anonymous, cybercrime.
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The Age, December 9, 2007

IN THE internet age, the threats of a man sitting at his computer can spread strife across the globe in moments.

That’s what happened when Frankston man Jarrad Willis, 20, allegedly posted a hoax blog on the internet warning of a shooting rampage at the Grove shopping centre in Beverly Hills. He claimed the shooting would happen on December 6 and for good measure posted a photograph of a man holding a shotgun.

Los Angeles police, fearing a copycat massacre just two days after a shopping centre shooting in Omaha, Nebraska, killed eight people, alerted the Grove centre and started a global manhunt. The police operation cost about $100,000.

But shoppers were never in danger.

Los Angeles police deputy chief of counter-terrorism and criminal intelligence Michael Downing said it was “a sick joke for sure that is criminal in intent and we hope that he gets punished for his actions”.

Victoria Police arrested Mr Willis and seized his computer. He was released without charge after being questioned for two hours. His blog was posted on 4chan.org, a discussion board based in Virginia for people with an interest in Japanese manga comics.

The Grove centre management became aware of the blog and notified Los Angeles police. Police tracked down Mr Willis through an Australian web server.

Officer Downing said the police would seek compensation for the cost of the investigation.

Law Institute of Victoria chief executive Michael Brett Young said such restitution could be possible if the accused were convicted of a crime under Australian law.

“Should the person be charged and convicted, then they may be able to make their claim for restitution within the Australian court system,” he said.

In May, a Jarrad Willis of Melbourne posted a comment on a news website following a story about a man arrested for carrying a Star Wars replica gun at Southbank.

“We know that the gun is supposed to be a replica of a stormtrooper’s blaster but that is too well made to go carrying around the streets in front of people that don’t know much about Star Wars. Too easily mistaken for a real gun … that was a silly thing to do,” he wrote.

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