Twenty-eight calls for help in the past two years have sent the Coast Guard scrambling off the Maryland coast -- but in each case the call turned out to be a hoax that originated from the same person.
The Coast Guard said in a press release Friday that it has spent $500,000 responding to the fake distress calls.
“It could cause the potential loss of life for someone else who really is in harm’s way,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Sara Wallace told WJZ-TV.
Each call involved the same male voice and used an emergency radio channel. The hoaxer has been making the calls since July 2014. The two most recent calls were made on the night of July 21 and the early morning of July 22.
“I’m sinking, I’m sinking, I repeat, I’m sinking I’m sinking,” the prankster said in one of the calls, WJZ reported.
“Mayday. Mayday. Mayday,” he said in another.
The hoax calls have been radioed to the Coast Guard from Annapolis, Maryland.
Making false distress calls is a felony, punishable by a maximum of six years in prison, a $10,000 civil fine, $250,000 criminal fine, NBC4 Washington reported.
The Coast Guard could also seek restitution of the money it spent responding to the calls.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.