Hoaxer Convinces Dad His Daughter Died in Tsunami

But Alice Byron is safe, and had evacuated
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2011 12:35 PM CDT
Australian English teacher Alice Katie Byron answers the AP reporter's question at Ofunato city hall in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Tuesday, March 15, 2011.   (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

(Newser) – Ashley Russell found the information on a missing persons website set up for victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami: His daughter, Alice Byron, was dead. But several hours later, the Australian man learned the truth: Byron was alive, and he had been the victim of an online hoax. The site Russell found on Saturday afternoon listed his daughter’s name along with the name and phone number of a real hospital, but a fake doctor’s name. Friends in Japan called the hospital for Russell and confirmed the hoax.

"There are some evil people out there," Russell tells the AP. "Her employer told me other people had suffered the same hoax as well." Byron, who had been teaching English in the coastal town of Ofunato, managed to climb the hill behind her apartment as the unstoppable water carried cars and debris inland. Says Byron, "People have lost far more than I have, and I think the fact that a person had a hoax played on them, in the scheme of this disaster, is one of the most minor, insignificant things imaginable, even if it did cause my parents great hurt. The hurt that other people are feeling in this city is larger by an unimaginable degree."

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