Hong Kong man gets prison for hoax e-mail terror warning

A Hong Kong businessman who sent a hoax e-mail warning of a Pakistani terrorist bomb plot on a container ship that shut down a California port for 10 hours was sentenced on Friday to a year in prison.

Last Updated: Feb 18, 2011, 20:47 PM IST

Hong Kong: A Hong Kong businessman who
sent a hoax e-mail warning of a Pakistani terrorist bomb plot
on a container ship that shut down a California port for 10
hours was sentenced on Friday to a year in prison.

Luk Wa sent the e-mail in a desperate attempt to stop
a shipment of toys from reaching a buyer who refused to pay.

US border authorities and the Coast Guard closed the
Port of Oakland after receiving the warning, purportedly from
anti-terrorism police in mainland China, warning that plastic
explosives and radioactive materials were in two shipping
containers.

In reality, the containers held a shipment of plastic
toy figurines of the members of rock band Gorillaz.

Luk had failed to stop the shipping company from
sending them to buyer Paul Budnitz, president of toy and
clothing company Kidrobot, who had refused to pay USD 150,000
owed to him.

Hong Kong District Court Judge Joseph Yau said his
sentence took into account mitigating factors including Luk`s
pleading guilty to accessing a computer with dishonest intent
in the June 2005 incident.

Luk, 42, hacked into another company`s Internet
account and signed up for a Yahoo e-mail account with a fake
name. The message`s subject heading read, "Alert Gorillaz
Dirty Bombs Attack Oakland Port!!!!!" and warned that
Pakistani terrorists had placed plastic explosives and highly
radioactive materials in containers on a ship headed to the
port.

The e-mail asked for police action to stop the
container from entering Oakland Bay.

In response, authorities shut down the port, ordering
all docked ships out to sea and closing the waterways. A bomb
squad examined the containers but did not find explosives or
radioactivity.

US investigators traced the e-mail back to the hacked
account and notified Hong Kong authorities, who arrested Luk
and found a copy of the e-mail in a laptop handed over by his
then-wife.

PTI