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Entries in Hoax (14)

Friday
Feb012013

Manti Te'o Hoaxer Says He 'Killed' Fake Girlfriend After Fight with Te'o

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the alleged mastermind behind the Manti Te'o "catfish" hoax, told Dr. Phil on Thursday that he killed off fake girlfriend Lennay Kekua because Te'o told "her" he didn't need her anymore and had been talking to four other girls on Skype.

Tuiasosopo said that Kekua and Te'o had broken up when "things had gotten a little shaky" two weeks earlier.  He said that when he checked Te'o's social media accounts, which he had the passwords to, he found that the only irregularity were conversations with other girls on Skype.

An angry "Lennay" called Te'o and demanded to know if he had been talking to other girls.  Te'o then told her that his grandmother had just passed away, which Tuiasosopo claimed he did not know.

"Forget I ever asked the question," Tuiasosopo recalled telling Te'o.  "I'm here for you.  I'll support you.  I'm praying for your family."

He claimed an angry Te'o said he didn't need her, never needed her and didn't want to speak to her again.  He also said that Te'o later texted that he had been talking to other girls on Skype, including two of his ex-girlfriends.

Tuiasosopo said that Te'o's anger hit him hard and upset him, as Ronaiah, not just as Lennay.

"I poured so much into Lennay," Tuiasosopo said.  "I was crying that morning, hurt, emotionally."

He decided at that point that he couldn't be Kekua anymore and need to end it.

Dr. Phil McGraw pressed Tuiasosopo to replicate the fake girlfriend's voice that spent countless hours talking to the Notre Dame star linebacker.

"Much of this relationship you had was on the phone...let me hear that voice," Dr. Phil demanded of Tuiasosopo.  "If that is you on those voicemails, then prove it."

"I can't, even if I tried," Tuiasosopo said.  "There's a whole lot that went into pushing me to do something like that..to go to that extreme consistently.  Even if I tried, it doesn't come off right."

Tuiasosopo said it was "awkward and uncomfortable" and he had never done the voice in front of a person, doing it alone in a dark room every time.

Dr. Phil told Tuiasosopo that he was "very skeptical" and just wanted the truth.

A lawyer for Tuiasosopo has claimed that Tuiasosopo used a falsetto voice to impersonate Te'o's fictitious girlfriend Lennay Kekua for two years.  The attorney has not responded to requests for comment from ABC News.

Te'o told ABC's Katie Couric that he doubted it was a man's voice he listened to all those hours and audio experts who reviewed voice emails from Kekua for ABC News concluded it was a woman talking.

Tuiasosopo initially refused to recreate the voice, but eventually agreed to do it behind a privacy screen.  That portion of the interview is scheduled to be shown during part two of the interview on Friday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan252013

Manti Te'o Listens to 'Girlfriend's' Voicemails with Katie Couric

Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney-ABC(NEW YORK) -- Manti Te'o listened Thursday on national television to taped phone calls from his fictitious girlfriend, including one in which "Lennay" was in a jealous fit and another telling him, "I love you so much."

As he was hearing the recordings, Te'o looked at interviewer Katie Couric and said, "Doesn't that sound like a girl?"

To this day, the star Notre Dame linebacker says he does not know who impersonated girlfriend Lennay Kekua for several years, including months of intense daily calls that sometimes lasted hours.

Listen to Manti Te'o's voicemails from "girlfriend" Lennay Kekua.

Couric asked Te'o in her exclusive interview whether Ronaiah Tuiasosopo -- who Te'o claims called him on Jan. 16 and confessed to engineering the hoax -- had impersonated the voice.  A lawyer for Tuiasosopo is quoted in the New York Daily News saying it was Tuiasosopo who impersonated Te'o's girlfriend.

"Well, it didn't sound like a man.  It sounded like a woman," Te'o said to Couric.  "If he somehow made that voice, that's incredible.  That's an incredible talent to do that, especially every single day."

Te'o, 21, has been alternately questioned and lampooned over his role in the hoax that led him and the public to believe that his girlfriend died of leukemia as Te'o led the Notre Dame football team to an undefeated season that culminated in the national championship game.  

The sympathetic story also surfaced as Te'o's name was being mentioned as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the best college football player in the country.  Te'o was eventually the runner-up for the award.

Te'o admitted that even he wondered early on if this girl was too good to be true and asked some of her friends about her and wanted to know if anyone had met her in person.

To his friend, identified only as Lyell, Te'o wrote in a Facebook message, "I was just wondering because it does seem kinda weird and so I was like wondering if it was something else pulling a prank or something."

The friend assured Te'o that she was not a "fake person."

"Since I didn't meet her and I didn't see her in person and she just seemed nice and from the pictures she seemed very beautiful, and I needed to find kind of somebody who knew her and supposedly met her and ask them, 'Hey, is this person real?'" Te'o said.

A skeptical Couric repeatedly pressed Te'o on some of the hoax's red flags.

"Are you that technologically challenged?" she asked him when he said video chats with Kekua never worked because of a so-called camera problem that only showed a black box where Kekua's face should have been.

"Either you are the most naïve person on the planet or this is the saddest story ever written," she said at another point in her exclusive interview.

When the football player explained that scheduling conflicts and other issues prevented him from visiting his "dying" girlfriend in the hospital, Couric said, "Manti, that just really doesn't make sense to me."

Rumors have swirled that perhaps the fake girlfriend was a cover for Te'o's sexuality.

"Are you gay?" Couric asked him.

"No.  Far from it.  Faaar from that," he said with a chuckle.

Te'o said he still doesn't know why he was the victim of a hoax that left him scared, confused and the butt of countless jokes.

Te'o says Tuiasosopo has spoken to him by Twitter and then in a phone call to confess to engineering the elaborate hoax, but gave little explanation for his actions.

"He just basically... explained what he did and why he did it," Te'o told Couric.  But he added, "He didn't say why [he did it].  He just explained that he wanted to help people and that was his way of helping people, of being someone that he wasn't..."

"Obviously, it didn't really help me out, but, you know, I didn't really say anything.  I was still speechless.  I just found out everything that I believed to be my reality wasn't actually reality at all," Te'o said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan232013

Manti Te'o Briefly Lied About Girlfriend After Hoax Discovery

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Manti Te'o says that even though he was hoaxed by the supposed existence of a fake girlfriend, his inspirational story of playing through emotional pain "was all real and that's something that I can't fake."

Te'o made his comments to Katie Couric during an exclusive interview set to air Thursday.

Te'o, 21, has been alternately questioned and lampooned over his role in the hoax that led him and the public to believe that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua died of leukemia as Te'o led the Notre Dame football team to an undefeated season that culminated in the national championship game.

Te'o was also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, which goes to the best college football player in the country. Couric asked the star linebacker whether the emotional "story line" of a girlfriend who died on the same day as his grandmother "helped propel you to second place in Heisman voting?"

"I don't know. I really don't know," Te'o replied.

See more exclusive previews Wednesday night on ABC’s World News With Diane Sawyer and Nightline.

He was more certain, however, when Couric pressed him by pointing out that it had become "sort of a legend that you had endured this hardship and gone on to play your team and your school to victory... Did you feel like, wow, I'm getting a lot of attention for this?"

Te'o denied reveling in the attention.

Watch Katie Couric's interview with Manti Te'o and his parents Thursday on Katie. Check your local listings or click here for online station finder.

"I think for me the only thing I basked in was that I had an impact on people, that people turned to me and for inspiration and I think that was the only thing I focused on. You know my story I felt was a guy who in times of hardship and in times of trial really held strong to his faith, held strong to his family and I felt that that was my story," said Te'o, who is a Mormon.

Te'o said there was no acting in his emotions at the time when he thought the girl he called "Lala" had died of leukemia.

"What I went through was real. You know the feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real and that's something that I can't fake," he said.

During the interview, Te'o said that he received a phone call on Dec. 6, apparently from the same woman he believed was dead, who told him she was alive. She said that her name was not Lennay Kekua, it was Leah. Te’o has also said that woman sent him a different picture of herself.

Nevertheless, he again publicly mentioned his girlfriend, and her death, two days later on the day the Heisman trophy was to be awarded.

"You stuck to the script. And you knew that something was amiss, Manti," Couric said.

"Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12," Te'o said.

"Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?" Te'o said.

Te'o was joined by his parents, Brian and Ottilia, in the interview.

"Now many people writing about this are calling your son a liar. They are saying he manipulated the truth, really for personal gain," Couric said to Te'o's father.

"People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid," Brian Te'o said with tears in his eyes.

Diane O'Meara told NBC's Today show Tuesday that she was used as the "face" of the Twitter account of Manti Te'o's online girlfriend without her knowledge or consent. O'Meara said that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo used pictures of her without her knowledge in creating Kekua.

"I've never met Manti Te'o in my entire life. I've never spoke with him. I've never exchanged words with him," O'Meara said Tuesday.

The 23-year-old marketing executive went to high school in California with Tuiasosopo, but she says they're not close. Tuiasosopo called to apologize the day Deadspin.com broke the hoax story, she said.

In an interview with ESPN last week, Te'o said he had received a Twitter message from Tuiasosopo apologizing for the hoax.

The Hawaiian also spoke to Tuiasosopo on the phone the day the Deadspin report came out, according to ESPN. He found out that "two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing," he said.

But he did not know the identities of the other individuals involved, other than the man he says was Tuiasosopo.

Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old resident of California, has not admitted involvement publicly. Tuiasosopo graduated from Paraclete High School in Lancaster, Calif., in 2007 and has posted dozens of videos online singing Christian songs.

Those who knew him say he was a devout Christian and a good athlete. His former football coach Jon Flemming described him as gregarious, and from a "good loving family." Flemming said Tuiasosopo is the kind of guy who gives you a hug when he sees people he knows.

"He's doing good. Wishing everyone would go away," Flemming told ABC News Wednesday after a recent correspondence with Tuiasosopo.

Flemming said Tuiasosopo is "somebody I'd want my kid to grow up like. He's responsible, respectful, disciplined, dedicated."

Tessi Toluta'u, a Polynesian beauty queen, told ABC News this weekend that "Lennay Kekua" reached out to her in 2008 about entering pageants.

When visiting Los Angeles in 2009, Toluta'u was supposed to meet Kekua, but she failed to appear. Tuiasosopo met Toluta'u instead.

"[It's a] sick joke that went way too far," Toluta'u said.  

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan212013

Manti Te'o Was One of Several Duped in Hoax

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The man who allegedly orchestrated the Lennay Kekua hoax on Manti Te'o may have used the character to dupe other prominent members of the community, a source told ABC News.

Tessi Toluta'u, a Polynesian beauty queen, said the fake Lennay Kekua reached out to her in 2008 about entering pageants.  Although Toluta'u said she believed Kekua may have fabricated some details about her life, she still believed her to be real and kept in touch with her for a period of several months.

When visiting Los Angeles in 2009, Toluta'u was supposed to meet Kekua, however she failed to appear.  Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who Te'o said confessed to the hoax, met Toluta'u instead.

They went to a Polynesian dance practice and lunch, and that was the end of their correspondence, she said.

"[It's a] sick joke that went way too far," she said.

Toluta'u said she believes Te'o was one of four or five people who were duped into believing Kekua was real.

The script for the elaborate hoax played on Te'o, from a horrific car accident to a leukemia diagnosis, according to reports, had parallels to the alleged perpetrator's life.

In December, three months after the fictional Kekua was killed off, the alleged orchestrator of the hoax, Tuiasoposo, called Te'o to confess it was all a sham, the Notre Dame football star told ESPN.

Also on the line, he said, was Kekua, the woman whom he spent hours talking to on the phone and once called the love of his life.

"They said, 'It's Lennay'.  And so we carried on that conversation and I just got mad.  And I just went on a rampage," Te'o said.

The woman, whose voice he fell asleep to at night on the phone, may have been a fabrication, but the alleged script used to fool Te'o seemed to mirror Tuiasoposo's reality.

Tuiasoposo's father posted on Facebook that his son and his band survived a severe car accident last March.

And at the same time the fake Kekua was diagnosed with leukemia, Tuiasoposo's cousin, Jazmine Lutu, also in her early 20s, was battling the disease, USA Today reported.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan202013

Manti Te'o Hoax Had Parallels to Alleged Perpetrator's Life

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The script for the elaborate hoax played on Manti Te'o, from a horrific car accident to a leukemia diagnosis, according to reports, had parallels to the alleged perpetrator's life.

In December, three months after the fictional Lennay Kekua was killed off, the alleged orchestrator of the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasoposo, called Te'o to confess it was all a sham, the Notre Dame football star told ESPN.

Also on the line, he said, was Kekua, the woman whom he spent hours talking to on the phone and once called the love of his life.

"They said, 'It's Lennay'. And so we carried on that conversation and I just got mad. And I just went on a rampage," Te'o said.

The woman, whose voice he fell asleep to at night on the phone, may have been a fabrication, but the alleged script used to fool Te'o seemed to mirror Tuiasoposo's reality.

Tuiasoposo's father posted on Facebook that his son and his band survived a severe car accident last March.

And at the same time the fake Kekua was diagnosed with leukemia, Tuiasoposo's cousin, Jazmine Lutu, also in her early 20s, was battling the disease, USA Today reported.

The sophistication and the depth of the hoax, which was publicly unraveled last week, left many people with questions that are only beginning to be answered.

Te'o received phone calls, text messages and letters before every football game from his "girlfriend." He was in contact with her family, including a twin brother, a second brother, sister and parents. He called often to check in with them, just as he did with his own family. And "Kekua" kept in contact with Te'o's friends and family, and teammates spoke to her on the phone.

"There are a remarkable number of characters involved. We don't know how many people they represent," Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said at a news conference this week. "There are male and female characters, brothers, cousins, mother, and we don't know if it's two people playing multiple characters or multiple people."

"It goes to the sophistication of this, that there are all these sort of independent pieces that reinforce elements of the story all the way through," he said.

One of Te'o's teammates who asked not to be identified told ABC News that it was normal for Te'o to pass his phone around to teammates when he was on the line with "Lennay" so they could say hello to her.

"I talked to her," this teammate said. "I wasn't suspicious."

When Te'o got the call telling him that Lennay had died last fall, he was in the locker room, the teammate said.

"He got real emotional, crying," the teammate said. "He's an emotional guy."

The teammate said he thinks Te'o genuinely got hoaxed. The fact that Te'o talked about meeting her and touching her hand -- when really he only "met" her on the Internet -- makes this teammate think that he was not completely telling the truth about his relationship.

"I think he was just embarrassed about it, the whole Internet thing," the teammate said. The player said he hasn't talked to Te'o since this story broke.

In response to Te'o's comments that the investigators hired by the school never interviewed him, just asked for a picture and any evidence he had, Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown provides the following statement:

"Notre Dame engaged with a highly regarded investigative firm to, first and foremost, determine who had perpetrated what by all appearances was a hoax. The 'catfish' scheme and those responsible for it were discovered so quickly that there was no need for an interview with Manti - though that would have been the next step had nothing turned up. The investigators' work has been verified by media reports and the confession this week of the principal participant."

Brown said that the investigators started their work on Jan. 2 and on Jan. 4 and the school received an oral report with the information on the "catfish" scheme and the perpetrators.

"Catfish" movie director and actor Ariel Schulman told "Good Morning America" that he believes there may have been "a few other people duped by the fake Lennay character."

Te'o at first kept a low-profile after the news of the scandal broke. But he has since released a statement calling the situation "incredibly embarrassing" and granted an interview to ESPN. ABC News' Katie Couric will conduct the first on-camera interview with Manti Te'o for her syndicated daytime talk show, "Katie," on Jan. 24.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan192013

Manti Te'o Denies 'Faking It' in Girlfriend Hoax, Admits He 'Tailored' Story

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o told ESPN that he "wasn't faking it" when he talked about his love for a woman who now appears to be part of an elaborate hoax involving an online relationship with a fictional girlfriend, he acknowledged that he had crafted stories about the woman he had called the love of his life.

Te'o admitted to a few mistakes in his own conduct, including telling his father he met "Lennay Kekua" in Hawaii even though his attempt to meet her actually failed. Later retellings of that tale led to inconsistencies in media reports, Te'o said, adding that he never actually met Kekua in person.

Te'o explained that he feared people would think it was crazy for him to be involved with someone that he never met, so, "I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away."

Te'o said he only learned for sure this week that he had been duped.

"When they hear the facts, they'll know," Te'o told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap in his first interview since the story broke. "They'll know that there is no way that I could be a part of this."

On Wednesday, Te'o received a Twitter message, allegedly from a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, apologizing for the hoax, Te'o told Schaap.

The sports website Deadspin, which first revealed the hoax this week, has reported that Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old of Samoan descent who lives in Antelope Valley, Calif., asked a woman he knew for her photo and that photo became the face of Kekua's Twitter account.

Te'o told Schaap that Tuiasosopo was represented to him as Kekua's cousin.

"I hope he learns," Te'o said of Tuiasosopo, according to coverage of the interview on ESPN.com. "I hope he understands what he's done. I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough."

The relationship got started on Facebook during his freshman year, Te'o said.

"My relationship with Lennay wasn't a four-year relationship," Te'o said, according to ESPN.com. "There were blocks and times and periods in which we would talk and then it would end."

He showed Schaap Facebook correspondence indicating that other people knew of Kekua -- though Te'o now believes they, too, were tricked.

The relationship became more intense, Te'o said, after he received a call that Kekua was in a coma following a car accident involving a drunk driver on April 28.

Soon, Te'o and Kekua became inseparable over the phone, he said, continuing their phone conversations through her recovery from the accident, and then during her alleged battle against leukemia.

Even so, Te'o never tried to visit Kekua at her hospital in California.

"It never really crossed my mind," he said, according to ESPN.com. "I don't know. I was in school."

But the communication between the two was intense. They even had ritual where they discussed scripture every day, Te'o said. His parents also participated via text message, and Te'o showed Schaap some of the texts.

On Sept. 12, a phone caller claiming to be Kekua's relative told Te'o that Kekua had died of leukemia, Te'o said. However, on Dec. 6, Te'o said he got a call allegedly from Kekua saying she was alive. He said he was utterly confused and did not know what to believe.

ESPN's 2 1/2-hour interview was conducted in Bradenton, Fla., with Te'o's lawyer present but without video cameras. Schaap said Te'o was composed, comfortable and in command, and that he said he didn't want to go on camera to keep the setting intimate and avoid a big production.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec312012

Police Release 911 Call of NJ Teen Accused of Faking Kidnapping

Obtained by ABC(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey State Police have released the 911 call of a teen who said she was abducted from her home in September by a 28-year-old black man.

Kara Alongi, 16, sent an ominous tweet on Sept. 30, saying, "There is someone in my house, call 911."

The tweet sparked national attention on Twitter, prompting a search for the missing teen after authorities were flooded with phone calls from around the country.  The tweet was retweeted more than 32,000 times.

Two days after the tweet, police found Alongi at a rest stop along the New Jersey Turnpike while she was on the phone with a 911 operator.  She voluntarily left her home in Clark, N.J., and was not abducted, officials say.

Her family declined to comment and police have not responded to requests for comment on whether they will charge the teen for making the alleged fake call.

In the Oct. 2 call, Alongi told a 911 operator that she was placed in a taxi cab by someone she described as a 28-year-old black man who entered her house.

"A few days ago I was inside and some guy came and made me go. ... I was in my house and some guy came in and told me that I had to do all this stuff.  I don't know his name, but he was black and he said he was, like, 28," Alongi told the 911 operator.

The operator asked Alongi to explain how she was forced out of her home.

"He told me I had to go into a cab and I had to meet someone, but I don't remember where I was," Alongi responded.

Alongi said the cab took her to the train station and was told by her abductor to get on a bus, but she didn't know whether the man got on the bus after her.

"There was a cab at my house and I went in and then I went into the train station and then I don't remember where I was. ... And I woke up today in, I don't know, somewhere, it was like the country. … And now I'm here," she said.

The call ends when a New Jersey State Trooper arrives at a Burger King to pick up Alongi, who was unharmed.

Police have not said why they think Alongi made up the story, but they believe that the teen went to the train station alone.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep262012

Phoenix Filmmaker Arrested After Allegedly Staging Terrorist Hoax

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- A Phoenix filmmaker has been arrested for allegedly videotaping his nephew dressed in a sheet while pointing a fake grenade launcher at passing cars in an apparent terrorist hoax to test police-response time after the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre, authorities said on Wednesday.

Police arrested Michael Turley, 39, on Monday after a nearly two-month investigation.  The filmmaker faces charges of knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of his 16-year-old nephew.

Police said they responded one minute after they first received calls, but the video, which Turley allegedly filmed on July 28 and then posted on YouTube, apparently shows the fake terrorist roaming around a busy intersection for 15 minutes.

"They told us they were just making a movie," Phoenix Police Department spokesman James Holmes said, adding that there was no arrest that day.

"We deemed it a pretty dumb action but we didn't know what their real intent was, so we initiated an investigation," Holmes said.

Turley apparently posted the video on YouTube two days after filming.  He called it "Dark Knight Shooting Response, Rocket Launcher Police Test."

"The Anonymous Filmmaker explores how the Phoenix Police Department reacts days after the event at the Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman, James Holmes, killed 12 people and injured 58 more at the premiere of Batman The Dark Knight Rises," the video description said.

Police spokesman Holmes said authorities became aware of the video a few weeks after they were called to the scene.

"We reviewed it and at that point we realized they were intentionally endangering the public to prove a point," Holmes said.

Authorities arrested him on Monday after a search of his home.  ABC News has been unable to reach Turley or his attorney.

Police said Turley's nephew faces pending charges.  They have not released his name.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

NJ Yacht Hoax Linked to Texas Prank

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Coast Guard announced today that the hoax distress call made on June 11 by a man claiming to be the captain of a yacht that exploded off the coast of Sandy Hook, N.J., was linked to another hoax call made in Texas on May 20.

The case of the Houston-area vessel, the Skylark, came to the attention of New York area Coast Guard investigators only recently because the incident had been classified as unresolved rather than a hoax. The smaller-scale hoax, a distress call for six people, had many similarities to the Sandy Hook call, which involved more than 20 people.

Both calls came from a land-based radio, both specifically contacted a specific Coast Guard radio channel, and both came over a VHF frequency.

Special Agent Michael Donnelly of the Coast Guard Investigative Service said there were clear linguistic similarities between the calls. The voices were almost identical, and the person speaking used nautical expressions such as "taking on water" and referred to the passengers onboard as "souls."

The rescue effort in Sandy Hook cost more than $85,000 and occupied the time of more than 200 responders as well as a fleet of helicopters and boats.

The New York Coast Guard believes the Sandy Hook call originated from an area that stretches from northern Staten Island to the George Washington Bridge. The size of the area makes it unlikely the investigation will find the prankster, so the Coast Guard is calling on the public to help, offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of the offender.

If found and convicted, the offender could face up to six years in prison.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

LISTEN: NJ Yacht Explosion Hoax Distress Call Released

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard has released audio recordings of the distress call made by a man claiming to be the captain of a yacht that had exploded off the coast of Sandy Hook, N.J. The call prompted the costly deployment of over 200 responders and a fleet of helicopters and boats into the Atlantic Ocean, before it proved to be a hoax.

In an early transmission, the man calmly told the Coast Guard, "We have three deceased, nine injured. We've had an explosion on-board that's why we're taking on water. I'm in about three-and-a-half feet of water on the bridge right now."

In an ensuing dispatch, the man contradicted his earlier transmission by saying, "We have 21 souls on-board, 20 in the water right now." He added, "I'm going to stay on the radio for as long as I can before I have to go overboard."

The recording contained five separate transmissions totaling almost a minute and a half.

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He also said that everyone had life jackets and that distress beacons were on-board.

The caller displayed some basic nautical knowledge, saying that his electronic communications array was down, which is why he called via solar radio. He also had fairly precise coordinates for their location, saying they were 17.5 miles east of Sandy Hook.

The last transmission cuts off ominously, with the caller saying "I'm dealing with 2nd and 3rd degree…" He was presumably speaking about burns suffered by the supposed victims of the explosion.

The U.S. Coast Guard has launched an investigation into a yacht explosion hoax call made by the realistic-sounding "captain."

The prankster faces a maximum of five to 10 years in prison for the federal crime, a $250,000 fine and a reimbursement to the government for the cost of the search.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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