Coast Guard seeks public’s help in locating false distress caller in Lynwood, CA

SAN PEDRO, Calif. — The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help in finding a person who has made several suspected false distress alerts to the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach command center since late December.

The caller transmits Digital Selective Calling distress alerts repeatedly through VHF-FM radio transmissions and is believed to be located in the vicinity of Lynwood. Shortly after transmitting false alerts through DSC, it’s believed the caller would transmit over the radio.

Digital Selective Calling allows mariners to instantly send an automatically formatted distress alert to the Coast Guard through VHF-FM radio.

“The Coast Guard treats every distress call like a real emergency,” said Capt. Monica Rochester, the Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach commander. “Knowingly and willfully communicating false distress calls over VHF-FM Channel 16 is illegal, irresponsible and punishable by state and federal law.”

The Coast Guard pursues all distress calls including suspected false distress calls until doubts as to the nature and legitimacy of the calls are resolved. Willfully communicating a false distress message to the Coast Guard is a felony offense under federal law and punishable by up to six years in prison, a $250,000 fine, a $10,000 civil penalty and reimbursement to agencies for all costs incurred in responding to the false distress message.

Anyone with any information about these false distress calls is encouraged to contact the Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach command center at 310-521-3801.

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