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Press Release | March 6, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard seeks public assistance with hoax caller near Baltimore

BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) is seeking the public’s assistance with locating the individual responsible for communicating a series of false distress calls in the Baltimore area, Wednesday.

The series of falsified distress calls began on February 17, 2024, and have been transmitted over VHF channel 16. The calls are believed to have originated from the Strawberry Point area in Baltimore and consist of an individual calling out for help with no location or description of their vessel. 

If you have information regarding the above incidents, please contact the CGIS tipline at 410-576-2555. 

VHF Channel 16 is for international hailing and distress only. Knowingly transmitting false distress calls is a federal crime under 18 U.S. Code § 1038. 

It can lead to criminal and civil penalties if found guilty and can be punishable by up to ten years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines plus the cost of the search. 

Deliberate misuse of distress calls compromises the Coast Guard’s mission of providing search and rescue assistance to the maritime community that needs it, and this crime is treated seriously. 

- USCG -