£3,000 reward offered for information leading to arrest of superyacht hoaxer
The US Coast Guard is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man who made a hoax distress call claiming he was on board a sinking motor yacht called Blind Date off the coast of New Jersey.
The call came through on VHF Channel 14 at 4.20pm local time on Monday. The man making the call said there had been an explosion on board, resulting in three deaths and nine injuries. A further 20 people were said to be in the water.
LISTEN TO THE CALL
The Coast Guard immediately launched a rescue attempt, dispatching two boats, four aircraft, response teams from various littoral fire departments and a number of good samaritan boats. In all, more than 200 people were involved in the search at an estimated cost of $318,000.
The rescue attempt immediately made news around the world, due to the scale of the incident and the fact Blind Date is a well known superyacht available for charter.
But after a 5 1/2-hour, 638-square mile search, no sign of the boat or those on board was found and the distress call was labelled a hoax.
“False distress calls like this tie up valuable assets like helicopters and boats, and put our crews at risk every time since we take every distress call seriously,” said Rear Admiral Dan Abel, commander of the 1st Coast Guard District.
“And they impede the ability of first responders like the Coast Guard and our partners to respond to real distresses where real lives may be in genuine peril.”
If the hoax caller is found, he faces up to six years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard of the cost of the search.