According to messages circulating rapidly via social media and SMS, people should stay away from Sydney on Christmas and New Years Eve due to a possible terror attack.
The messages claim that a man found a wallet with a sizable amount of cash inside and returned it to its Muslim owner. Supposedly, to show gratitude for the wallet’s return, the owner warned the man that he should not go near Sydney on New Year’s Eve or ‘maybe Christmas’.
In the wake of the December 2014 Sydney hostage attack, the messages are causing great concern as they travel.
However, NSW Police have dismissed the warning as a hoax, noting in a December 16 Facebook post:
A hoax is circulating about a wallet being found and a person who comes to collect the wallet warning about ‘something bad’ happening in #Sydney on New Year’s Eve or Christmas. Police have received no such reports. We believe the message has been designed to create fear in the community. Please share this hoax alert – don’t share the hoax. Anyone who has information about possible signs of terrorism in Australia is urged to call the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00.
Spreading these false warnings will do nothing more than increase fear and alarm in the Australian community. If you receive one of these hoax messages, please do not share it with others. And please let the poster know that the warning is a hoax.