The Coast Guard says two hoax calls reporting an explosion on a motor yacht off central New Jersey came from land and the rescue effort cost the agency tens of thousands of dollars.
Deputy Commander Gregory Hitchen says the search and rescue operation cost at least $88,000 and lasted about four hours on Monday. He says the emergency call came from a radio that was being used over land, not over water.
An investigation has begun to determine who was responsible. The agency is offering a $3,000 reward.
The caller reported the boat had 21 people aboard and several were injured.
Authorities found no sign of any people or any distress in the water.
The mission involving not only the Coast Guard, but local police and fire departments, was launched after authorities received an emergency radio transmission around 4:20 p.m. In at least two calls within about 5 minutes using the same radio transmission, the caller gave the name of the boat - the Blind Date - and reported it was 17 nautical miles east of Sandy Hook.
The caller also claimed the vessel sank but everyone had made it to life rafts. But Coast Guard crews and New York City police helicopters found no sign of any people or any distress in the water, and after several hours of searching it became increasingly clear there was no explosion.