Florida

Coast Guard needs help finding a hoax bomb caller. He claims to work for Russia

The U.S. Coast Guard needs help in identifying a hoax caller who is threatening to bomb planes and sink ships for the Russian government through marine band radio off the gulf coast of Florida.

Officials recently released a recording of the threat that was made to Coast Guard personnel on Aug. 13 on VHF channel 22A, hoping someone will recognize his voice.

“Attention all Coast Guard stations, the next time you scramble any aircraft carrier we’re going to bomb your [expletive] jets. Number two, the next time you send off any aircraft carrier or helicopters ... I will sink your ships, ” the man says in the Aug. 13 recording.

He also demands all American airports close down.

“You are playing with the Russian government,” the man says. “I suggest you [expletive] back off because if you don’t back off you’re gonna lose a lot of Coast Guard men.”

The Coast Guard believes the caller may also be responsible for other hoax calls on VHF Channel 16, which is used for distress, urgency and safety priority calls. In those calls, which have not been released, the man says “MAYDAY” three times, a string of random numbers that are not coordinates, and talks about “scrambling all jets we are under nuclear attack,” according to officials.

“Hoax calls are costly to the taxpayer and our service,” said Charles ‘Marty’ Russell, resident agent-in-charge of the Coast Guard Investigative Service office in St. Petersburg. “When the Coast Guard receives a distress call, we immediately respond, putting our crews at risk, and risking the lives of boaters who may legitimately need our help.”

Officials believe the man is sending the calls off the gulf coast of Florida around the Tampa area between Manatee and Pinellas counties. The threats are not legitimate, according to a Coast Guard spokeswoman, but making false distress calls and hoaxes are a serious offense.

Penalties for making false distress calls and hoaxes can include up to 10 years in prison, $250,000 in fines, plus the cost of the search.

Anyone with information that can help officials identify and locate the caller are asked to contact the Coast Guard Investigative Service St. Petersburg at 727-535-1437, ext. 2308.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM
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