Influencer arrested for coronavirus prank on plane

Posted by Ilhaam Bardien on 6 February 2020

It’s common practice for influencers to use current affairs in the hopes of getting more clicks on their content. This influencer, however, may have taken it too far.

James Potok, a 28-year-old aspiring rapper, caused a stir on a flight to Jamaica on Monday, 3 February, when he falsely claimed he had recently visited China. Of course, China is where the coronavirus outbreak originated. This resulted in the rerouting of the WestJet flight to Montego Bay back to Toronto from where it came.

The influencer recorded himself announcing his ‘visit’ to China hoping that the video would go viral once he posted it. ‘Its something that is a hot topic right now. Everybody is talking about coronavirus’, he told The Washington Post.

After his stunt, the aircrew immediately geared up and requested that he put on gloves and a mask. He claims that he notified all other passengers that it was a joke not long after he pulled the prank.

This, however, was not enough.

Potok was quarantined and examined after being escorted off the flight by law enforcement and EMS officials. ‘Out of an abundance of caution, our crew followed all protocols for infectious disease on board, including sequestering an individual who made an unfounded claim regarding coronavirus,’ said WestJet in a statement.

Local law enforcement charged Potok with ‘mischief and breach of recognizance’. He is required to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in March.

He told The Washington Post that he fears he will be imprisoned for his offense. ‘If I could do it again, I would not do it,’ he said. However, in his Instagram stories he is quoted as saying that ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’.

Watch the ordeal below

Image: Screenshot from YouTube / Breaking News

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