Series of fake distress calls cost taxpayers thousands, authorities search for hoaxer

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coast guard radio edit 2

FILE: Photo courtesy USCG

SEATTLE —  The U.S. Coast Guard believes the same person may be behind a series of hoax distress calls that sent rescue crews racing to help multiple times over the last few weeks.

The first Mayday call came May 31st around 11:00 p.m. and reported that five people were abandoning ship due to a fire in Lilliwaup Bay on the Hood Canal.



After an extensive search of the area by Coast Guard and local authorities no such boat was found.

The next day around 9:00 p.m. the Coast Guard says a similar distress call was made, this time claiming two adults and a child were abandoning ship because it was taking on water.



Again Federal, local and tribal crews searched the area but found nothing.

Finally a 3rd emergency call was received around 10:00 p.m. on June 2nd and again nothing was found by searchers.



In total the Coast Guard estimates authorities spent more than $200,000 on responding to these hoax calls and now they want to find the person responsible.

“The Coast Guard takes every distress call seriously,” said Capt. Michael W. Raymond, commander of Sector Puget Sound. “False distress calls tie up valuable search assets and put our crews at risk.  They impede our ability to respond to real cases of distress where lives may be in genuine peril.”

Anyone convicted of making a false distress call could go to prison for up to 10 years and pay fines of more than $250-thousands.

Anyone with info that might lead to the hoaxer should call the USCG at 206-220-7003.




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