Coast Guard requests public assistance to identify suspected hoax caller

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service is requesting assistance from the public to identify a suspected hoax caller who contacted U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste Marie on VHF-FM Channel 16 between Sept. 12-27, 2009.

A false distress call to the Coast Guard is a felony criminal violation of 14 U.S.C.88. Additionally, false distress calls place Coast Guard men and women in dangerous response situations, waste the American taxpayer’s dollars, and may interfere with a legitimate search-and-rescue response.

Sector Sault Ste. Marie received the first call on Sept. 12, at approximately 2:23 a.m., from the motor vessel Magyver stating, “Mayday…taking on water in the St. Mary’s River.” CLICK HERE to hear the call.

Sector Sault Ste. Marie received another call on Sept. 12, at approximately 11:37 p.m., from the motor vessel Banana stating, “We are taking on water.” CLICK HERE to hear the call.

Sector Sault Ste. Marie received a third call on Sept. 27, at approximately 12:37 a.m., from the motor vessel Fox stating, “Mayday, Mayday, this is the Fox…Mayday, Mayday. We’re taking on water. The Fox is taking on water. I’m by…the Sugar Island…” CLICK HERE to hear the call.

14 U.S.C. 88(c), makes it a federal felony for anyone to knowingly and willfully communicate a false distress message to the U.S. Coast Guard or cause the U.S. Coast Guard to attempt to save lives and property when no help is needed. Penalties include up to six (6) years in prison, a $250,000 fine, a $5,000 civil penalty and the possible reimbursement to the U.S. Coast Guard for all costs incurred as a result of performing the search.

“This suspected hoax caller is placing ‘your’ Coast Guard in unnecessarily dangerous situations and wasting ‘your’ tax dollars every time they call,” said Capt. Mark Huebschman, Commanding Officer of Sector Sault Ste. Marie. “We urge anyone with information to contact the Coast Guard.”

If you have any information leading to the identity of this suspected hoax caller, contact the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie at (906) 635-3319.


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