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U.S. Coast Guards patrol in the San Francisco Bay on March 7, 2013.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The U.S. Coast Guard is working on finding a prank caller who is sending fake distress signals from the sea. The calls, placed in Washington state, have already cost the Coast Guard over $200,000.

The suspect, reported by Reuters as male, first pranked the military in May when he claimed that he was on a burning boat. Two helicopters and a team of vessels searched for the fishing boat but didn’t find anything. He made a similar call the next day, at first using the same name for the boat he had used the night before, and then changing the name. The Coast Guard launched another rescue mission, again to no avail.

Making a fake distress call can earn a prankster of this ilk up to 10 years in prison, along with a hefty fine to compensate the Coast Guard for the money they wasted.


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