Fake calls for help cost taxpayers $58,000.
Since late April, the local station of the U.S. Coast Guard has received eight radio distress calls that they believe were hoaxes and the investigations of the complaints have cost about $58,000.
Three of the calls were made Sunday, July 28. In the first call, made around 4 p.m., a person said, "Need help." The second call came in around 6:30 p.m. and said "Help. Mayday." In the third call, a man can be heard saying, "My boat is sinking."
Coast Guard crews investigated all three calls believed to have been made from the Portland-Clatskanie area and found nothing. Each investigation costs the Coast Guard approximately $8,000.
Coast Guard spokesman PA3 Nate Littlejohn said there is no way to identify the source of the calls, to determine if they are real or fake and they do not know if they are connected. But Littlejohn added three false distress calls in one day is "suspicious."
It is a federal felony to make a false distress call and offenders can end up in prison for ten years with more than $250,000 in fines.
A $1,000 reward is offered to the person who can help investigators identify and prosecute a suspect. Here's the tip line: 206-220-7308.