US Coast Guard Searching For Perpetrator of Distress Call Hoax Off NJ Coast
By Mike DeNardo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The US Coast Guard is offering a $3,000 reward for information regarding yesterday’s fake distress call from a yacht off the coast of Sandy Hook, NJ.
“We’ve had an explosion on board, that’s why we’re taking on water…” said a voice in a portion of the hoax distress call (see previous story).
But Philadelphia public affairs officer Lt. Drew Madjeska says the Coast Guard has the technology to locate the source of a radio distress call, fraudulent or otherwise.
“The Coast Guard does possess the capability for radio transmissions to be traced almost immediately after the call is made, to find the location of that caller over the radio. And we’re also able to do that with cell phones, although that takes a little more time,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
Madjeska says taking time to verify the nature of the call, though, takes a back seat to mobilizing the response.
He says Philadelphia gets about 60 hoax calls a year. Making a false distress call is a felony. Those convicted face five to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of the distress call response.