A 19-year-old man from Hertfordshire has been remanded in custody after admitting making bomb threats to thousands of schools, including in Lincolnshire, and a United Airlines flight.
George Duke-Cohan pleaded guilty at Luton Magistrates Court on Tuesday, September 4 to three accounts of making hoax bomb threats after an investigation by the National Crime Agency.
The teenager sent bomb threats that caused over 400 schools in the UK, including some in Lincolnshire, to be evacuated in March 2018.
He was then arrested days later and whilst under investigation he sent a mass email to schools in the UK and the USA in April, in which he claimed that pipe bombs had been planted on the premises.
A hacker group known as ‘Apophis Squad’ claimed on their Twitter page on August 9 that flight UAL 949, travelling from the UK to San Francisco, had been grounded due to their actions.
National Crime Agency investigators worked with the FBI and it was discovered that Duke-Cohan made the threats to the flight via phone calls to San Francisco Airport and their Bureau police whilst on pre-charge bail for the schools’ hoax.
From a recording a one of the phone calls Duke-Cohan can be heard claiming to be a father whose daughter contacted him from her flight saying it had been hijacked by gunmen and one of them had a bomb.
The plane was subject to a significant security operation in a quarantined area of San Francisco airport and all 295 passengers had to remain on board.
The teenager was arrested by NCA officers for the third time at his home in Watford on Friday, August 31 in an operation supported by Hertfordshire Police, where multiple electronic devices belonging to him were recovered.
The use of these items was went against the pre-charge bail conditions imposed on Duke-Cohan, who is due to appear at Luton Crown Court on September 21.
NCA Senior Investigating Officer Marc Horsfall said: “George Duke-Cohan made a series of bomb threats that caused serious worry and inconvenience to thousands of people, not least an international airline.
“He carried out these threats hidden behind a computer screen for his own enjoyment, with no consideration for the effect he was having on others.
“Despite being arrested and having conditions imposed restricting his use of technology, he persistently broke those conditions to continue his wave of violent threats.
“Law enforcement take such offences extremely seriously.
“This investigation proves that operating online does not offer offenders anonymity. We will identify you and you will be brought before the courts.”