Wasting the time and money of emergency workers by calling in a fake yacht explosion in New Jersey seems like a stupid way to spend an afternoon, but that’s what went down yesterday, according to the Coast Guard. The distress signal came in by radio from either Jersey or southern New York around 4:20 p.m., claiming that a boat called Blind Date exploded and sunk off the coast of Sandy Hook, killing three of the 21 people aboard and causing the others to jump ship. An hours-long search turned up nothing, and in a press conference this morning, the Coast Guard gave a frustrated shrug. “People like the attention they can cause by watching the helicopters and boats go out and actively search,” Capt. Gregory Hitchen said. “It’s pretty strange.”
“This person was somewhat calm but was giving us a convincing story,” Hitchen said of the man who pretended to be the boat’s captain, adding that the public “should be very concerned that this person who perpetrated this hoax put the public at risk and put your first responders at risk.” A bogus distress call is a federal felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison, plus a fine of $250,000 and reimbursement of the Coast Guard for their search, NBC New York reports. There were about 60 fake calls in the area last year — this one reportedly cost the agencies involved, including the NYPD, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Coast Guard is offering a $3,000 reward to track down the asshole prank caller, but everyone involved in the search should get to take turns dunking him in the cold ocean or something, too.