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RIGA - The State Police have arrested Niks Endzins, an individual who organized dissemination of fake news through several portals, while his underage accomplice has been released on his own recognizance, sources told LETA.
The State Police's Cyber Crime Unit in July opened a criminal case after several companies and public institutions complained about fake news being circulated online with the purpose to disturb the peace, the State Police told LETA.
The Cyber Crime Unit was able to trace the fake news to at least seven online portals where they were originally published: tv-play.lv, neticams.net, redzams.lv, redzams.net, kasjauns.net, parvisu.net, and atklats.com. The portals were maintained by several persons who shared the fake news with users of different social networks, prompting people to visit the websites where the fake news stories were published.
The fake news stories dealt with all kinds of disasters, traffic accidents and suchlike, for instance, collapsing shopping malls, falling planes, major car crashes, with the goal of luring as many visitors as possible to the websites.
These persons were paid by online advertisers for each visitor to their websites, the police said.
On Tuesday, the police detained a man born in 1997 on charges of disturbing the peace by organizing dissemination of fake news. The man already has a criminal record and is currently held in Riga Central Prison. LETA has information that the detained person is Endzins, a musician also known by the name of Neids.
His accomplice, born in 2002, was detained on Thursday, he was later released on his own recognizance.
The police have taken down all the websites that circulated fake news.
If convicted, Endzins can be sentenced to up to two years in prison, community service, or a fine.
Earlier this summer, a new story published on redzams.net said that Alfa shopping mall had collapsed, killing hundreds of people. The story was shared by many Facebook users.