Security guard held for 'spreading' fake news

Top News | Jane Cheung 5 Feb 2020

A security guard was arrested for allegedly spreading false information that claimed many security guards and concierge workers at a Tsim Sha Tsui shopping mall were down with the coronavirus - the first arrest of its kind since the crisis began.

Sources said the man surnamed Kwok, 37, is a part-time security guard at The Elements shopping center atop Kowloon station, which connects to the West Kowloon express rail station. It was suggested that Kwok might have spread the news as revenge for not getting his contract renewed.

Kwok allegedly sent an audio message on Whatsapp on Thursday saying many of his colleagues at The Elements and several private housing estates atop the mall had taken sick leave.

"Many colleagues had a fever starting yesterday. We have already had five staff of The Elements security department and three from the customer services branch calling in sick due to a high temperature," he allegedly said.

"I think a group of people who came by express rail carried the virus and affected some of our colleagues," he reportedly added, calling for people to avoid going to the area.

"I'm not in a suitable position to send this message out because everybody would know it's me. See if there are other ways to spread this piece of information to more people."

The case came to light when a security manager of the mall received the audio message and said he recognized Kwok's voice. He said when he confronted Kwok, he admitted he spread the message. The manager reported the case to police on Saturday.

According to the Summary Offences Ordinance, any person who uses a phone to send false messages to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety shall be liable to two months in jail and a fine of HK$1,000.

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