Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Hoax call which caused panic at 400 United Kingdom schools and U.S. airport

George Duke-Cohan 19 George Duke-Cohan 19
Steven Clarke | 08 December, 2018, 08:44

Duke-Cohan's bomb threat against United Airlines included him making a phone-call to San Francisco authorities in which he took on "the persona of a anxious father and [claimed] his daughter contacted him from the flight to say it had been hijacked by gunmen, one of whom had a bomb", said the National Crime Agency in a previous statement.

The 19-year-old twice targeted USA and United Kingdom schools with bogus messages prompting evacuations and caused a major scare at an airport by phoning in a fake report of a hijacked plane.

Schools in Stotfold and Dunstable were among those targetted by George Duke-Cohan.

George Duke-Cohan, 19, from the village of Garston, near Watford, just north of London, previously pleaded guilty to making three bomb hoaxes, including one in August against a transatlantic United Airlines flight that resulted in all 295 passengers aboard being exhaustively searched by U.S. police workers after the flight landed.

'You were playing a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities.

The 19-year-old, of Watford, contacted Avonbourne Trust and St Martin's in Bournemouth, as well as Lytchett Minster School in Poole, in March.

Detectives discovered that Duke-Cohan had made phone calls to San Francisco Airport and their police force while on pre-charge bail for the two prior offenses. Duke-Cohan and his crew modeled themselves after the actions of the Lizard Squad, another group of e-fame seeking online hoodlums who also ran a DDoS-for-hire service, called in bomb threats to airlines, DDoSed this Web site repeatedly and whose members were almost all subsequently arrested and charged with various cybercrimes.

Ms Austin said it was "clear" that Duke-Cohan used the influence of the Columbine attack of 1999 to add "authenticity".

Such conditions did not deter the teenager, as he was then linked to a third hoax, regarding a fake tip-off that hijackers had taken over a United Airlines flight between the UK and San Francisco in the U.S. in August.

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A tweet sent after the plane landed included the words "9/11 remake".

He was arrested for a third time at his home in Watford, Hertfordshire, on August 31 this year.

The teenager was sentenced to one year for the emails sent to schools and two years for the airport security scare.

The calls were taken seriously.

"You accept responsibility for the hoaxes and claim that you are a psychopath with a history of killing small animals", said the judge as he prepared to hand down sentence.

He also said: "I bear in mind that you are to be sentenced for bomb hoaxes and not for any other offences for computer misuse".

Judge Foster also told the court of the massive repercussions which followed Duke-Cohan's plane hijacking hoax in August.

Anne McCracken, from the CPS, said of Duke-Cohan: "His actions and complete lack of regard for other people caused widespread and unnecessary worry".

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