Popular YouTube prankster jailed for staging bomb threat hoax

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There are practical jokes and then there are displays of idiocy. The following is the latter. In the wake of a rather elaborately staged bomb threat hoax, a popular YouTube troll has been arrested. Because no, it’s really not a good idea to plant fake bombs and stage robberies.

On Thursday, YouTuber Danh Van Le, the co-founder of the Trollstation channel, was arrested for filming “jokes” that consisted of scaring civilians with what appeared to be a bomb hidden in a clock hidden in a briefcase. In these recorded pranks, a 15-year-old boy would approach individuals at crowded tourist hot spots in London, open up a bag to reveal its contents, and then flee, leaving the briefcase behind.

The antics, filmed back in September, were meant to be some sort of homage to Ahmed Mohamed, the now famous American teen whose homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb, renewing a national discussion about racial profiling and landing him internship offers at some of the top tech firms in the country. That said, Van Le’s footage doesn’t seem to do much justice to the criticism of injustice.

The 31-year-old cameraman was also responsible for footage at the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery, in which “robbers” ran into the museums carrying paintings in attempts to convince visitors that there was an ongoing robbery.

Van Le pled guilty to one count of bomb hoax placing with intent, involving eight incidents, the Daily Mail reports, and has since been sentenced to 24 weeks in jail. And his gallery stunts have landed him even more time behind bars (another 12 weeks). In total, Van Le’s offenses have resulted in nine months of prison time. We can only guess at what new ideas he’ll cook up in the slammer.

Le’s teenage accomplice has been found guilty of the same crimes, but due to his status as a minor, he’s been given a 12-month intense referral order.

A spokesperson for the Trollstation YouTube channel, which is reportedly the largest such channel in the U.K. with 680,000 subscribers and 188 million views, called the punishments “pretty unfair.”

“A big production crew for the Jackie Chan movie [The Foreigner] blew up a bus in London in February and didn’t warn anybody apart from some local people,” the spokesperson said. “In a way that impacted more people and scared a lot more people, but a small production does this low-budget thing and this is how it is dealt with.”

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