Online trolls wrongfully name university student as Sydney stabber

  • 14/04/2024

A Sydney university student and his family were "freaking out" when he was wrongfully named as the man who went on a deadly stabbing rampage at a mall on Saturday.

Joel Cauchi, 40, was named as the killer by police on Sunday after six people were killed.

However, online trolls on Saturday night wrongly identified 20-year-old UTS student Ben Cohen as the attacker, according to

Photos of the student were shared across social media and his name, 'Benjamin Cohen', was trending on X, formerly Twitter, for a time. 

Ben Cohen, 20, was wrongly named as the Bondi Junction attacker with photos of him going viral.
Ben Cohen, 20, was wrongly named as the Bondi Junction attacker with photos of him going viral. Photo credit: Supplied / X via

Ben also said he'd received "thousands" of messages and friend requests.

"It's just gone crazy, it's like look you’ve got the wrong guy," he said.

Ben said it has been a "hectic night and morning" after being accused.

"People don't really think too hard about what they're posting and how it might affect someone. It's very dangerous how people could just make stuff up and destroy people's lives."

His dad, Mark, is also fuming at the mix-up.

"Everyone's asking what's going on, people asking if it's true. Of course it's not true, he's not even a politically motivated person. He's just a normal kid who now has got to deal with this."

Mark said the family was "freaked out" and have sought advice from police.

"I think they've [online trolls] just gone for the first face that kind of looks the same and matches their own motives or what they wanted the story to be," Mark said.

"They don't realise how much harm they can do. I have worked in tech my whole life, my wife is a teacher. We are just a very normal family."

The real attacker, Cauchi, was shot dead by police at the mall on Saturday.

NSW Police Inspector Amy Scott was reportedly the first officer inside the mall, and took on the armed attacker, before shooting him in the chest when he lunged at her. 

Scott then performed CPR on the killer, along with victims lying on the ground as she waited for back-up to arrive.