A hoax caller in Maryland cost the Coast Guard about $500,000 in the past two years by making false distress alerts.
The caller made 28 false distress alerts from Annapolis, Maryland, beginning in July 2014, according to the Coast Guard. The two most recent calls were received Thursday and Friday, the Coast Guard reported. They also said they determined the calls to have originated from Annapolis, between Loretta Heights and Admiral Drive.
The estimated cost of the responses to these false alarms is $500,000.
The Coast Guard provided an audio file of the caller, in which the caller repeats “mayday” -- a word used to indicate distress at sea.
Making false distress calls is a felony, punishable by a maximum of six years in prison, a $10,000 civil fine, $250,000 criminal fine and a reimbursement to the Coast Guard for their efforts, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard also said such false distress alerts detract from their ability to respond to actual alerts.
“A hoax call is a deadly and serious offense,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sara Wallace, who heads the response sector in Maryland. “Calls like these not only put our crews at risk, but they put the lives of the public at risk.”
Anyone with information about the caller is asked to contact the Coast Guard's regional command center at 410-576-2525 or email investigators at CGIS-Baltimore@uscg.mil.