Hoax emergency calls radioed to the U.S. Coast Guard - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Hoax emergency calls radioed to the U.S. Coast Guard

Posted: Updated:
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Someone is targeting the local Coast Guard with phony emergency calls.  The person pretends to be in distress on the water, but it's nothing more than a dangerous hoax.

The Coast Guard command center in Detroit jumped into action when this mayday call came in over the emergency radio channel:

"Mayday, mayday, my boat's sinking in Lake Erie."

There have been similar other calls.  Each time the Coast Guard responded with a full scale search, but nothing ever turned up.  The calls were hoaxes.

These hoax calls for help began in late 2010.

"In many of the calls, he's reporting his vessel in distress.  He's reporting that he's sinking in Lake Erie.  He's reporting that in one of the calls his airplane is in distress and crashing in Lake Erie," said Lieutenant Justin Westmiller.   "During a few of those calls, we knew that we were in the middle of winter on Lake Erie and that most of Lake Erie was frozen."

Judging by the strength of the radio signal, the Coast Guard determined a general area where the distress calls were made.

"We were able to determine through various methods that at least the vast majority of them were coming in from the Bolles Harbor / Monroe, Michigan area," said Special Agent Ryan Warnke.

The phony calls for help included reports of a vessel fire.

Now every time the Coast Guard jumps into action, even if it's a hoax, Coast Guard members are at considerable risk.

"We're moving people, we're moving vessels, we're moving aircraft, and in all of those operations they're inherently dangerous.  We like to keep those to operations where we know that they're required and necessary," Westmiller explained.

A hoax call for help is a felony and it may keep the Coast Guard from responding to a real emergency.

"One of the reasons why we suspected that these were fraudulent, in a normal emergency situation, the person is going to want to give the Coast Guard or the sheriff's department, whoever answers, as much information as possible, including their position, and this person never once gave a physical area where he was," Warnke said.

How many people are making these hoax calls?  It could be one person or perhaps two.  They're really not sure.

There is a $1,000 if you have information leading to an arrest.  Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Fire from lightning strike devastates Roseville church

    Fire from lightning strike devastates Roseville church

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:10 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:10:35 GMT
    A raging fire happens in Roseville and of all places to be struck by lightning - the steeple of the New Life Church of God in Christ.Pastor Darrell Moore and his family are devastated."I got here and I found out I really didn't have a church anymore, " he said. Moore was attending a Sunday evening service at another church, when a member of new life called him repeatedly. When he finally answered, it was bad news."The fire department was here, there was water everywhere," said Mary Moore, mot...
    A raging fire happens in Roseville and of all places to be struck by lightning - the steeple of the New Life Church of God in Christ.Pastor Darrell Moore and his family are devastated."I got here and I found out I really didn't have a church anymore, " he said. Moore was attending a Sunday evening service at another church, when a member of new life called him repeatedly. When he finally answered, it was bad news."The fire department was here, there was water everywhere," said Mary Moore, mot...
  • Grosse Pointe Park's new farmer's market seen by some as a barrier to Detroit

    Grosse Pointe Park's new farmer's market seen by some as a barrier to Detroit

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:58 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:58:07 GMT
    Some Detroiters are calling for a boycott of Grosse Pointe Park after the city built a farmer's market that they believe cuts off access to and from Detroit.
    Some Detroiters are calling for a boycott of Grosse Pointe Park after the city built a farmer's market that they believe cuts off access to and from Detroit.
  • Neighbors tie pink ribbons to remember murdered Armada teen

    Neighbors tie pink ribbons to remember murdered Armada teen

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:40 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:40:12 GMT
    The community in Armada Township is pulling together to support the family of murdered 14-year-old April Millsap.
    The community in Armada Township is pulling together to support the family of murdered 14-year-old April Millsap.
  • Ron SavageRon SavageMore>>

  • Sunday's storm captured by Fox 2 viewers

    Sunday's storm captured by Fox 2 viewers

    Sunday, July 27 2014 11:48 PM EDT2014-07-28 03:48:38 GMT
    We have more video of the storm and storm damage from across southeast Michigan. It's Fox 2 viewer pics and video that you sent to us.
    We have more video of the storm and storm damage from across southeast Michigan. It's Fox 2 viewer pics and video that you sent to us.
  • Livonia man dies after 2 dogs attack him

    Livonia man dies after 2 dogs attack him

    Saturday, July 26 2014 9:48 PM EDT2014-07-27 01:48:03 GMT
    A 46-year-old Livonia man was killed Wednesday evening after he was attacked by two dogs while jogging in Metamora.
    A 46-year-old Livonia man was killed Wednesday evening after he was attacked by two dogs while jogging in Metamora.
  • FBI joins the search for Armada teen's killer

    FBI joins the search for Armada teen's killer

    Friday, July 25 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-07-26 03:08:38 GMT
    The FBI has joined the investigation team searching for the killer of a 14-year-old Armada girl, April Millsap.
    The FBI has joined the investigation team searching for the killer of a 14-year-old Armada girl, April Millsap. Authorities also say they are now looking for a small motorcycle in addition to the gray, dented van seen in the area.
Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices