The Coast Guard requests the public’s assistance in locating a hoax caller who made 28 false distress alerts since July of 2014.
All calls were determined to have originated from the Annapolis, Maryland, area between Loretta Heights and Admiral Drive along 450/West Street and involved the same male voice transmitting over VHF-FM marine radio channel 16.
The two most recent calls were received on Jul. 21, 2016, at 10:27 p.m., and again on Jul. 22, 2016, at 1:08 a.m., stating, “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.”
The Coast Guard’s cost for the searches is estimated to be approximately $500,000.
In addition to the financial cost, there is significant operational impact caused by making false distress calls. False distress alerts detract from the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to actual emergencies.
“A hoax call is a deadly and serious offense,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sara Wallace, chief of response at Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region. “Calls like these not only put our crews at risk, but they put the lives of the public at risk. Our efforts to respond to what may be a hoax can delay us from getting on scene to a real emergency.”
Making a false distress call is a felony with a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment, $10,000 civil fine, $250,000 criminal fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard Investigative Service is leading the investigation and requesting information leading to the positive identification of the person involved with the hoax call. Anyone with information that can help identify the caller is asked to contact Coast Guard Sector Maryland-NCR Command Center at 410-576-2525 or Coast Guard Investigative Service Baltimore at [email protected].