TRENTON, N.J. -

The Coast Guard said it's getting leads from the public about the fake distress call involving a boat explosion off the coast of New Jersey.

Spokesman Charles Rowe said they are investigating everything that comes in.

A man claiming to be aboard a yacht called the "Blind Date" triggered a massive search on Monday when he reported three people dead, nine injured and 21 abandoning ship after an explosion 20 miles off Sandy Hook.

The search took five hours and cost rescue agencies more than $318,000, a figure that does not include the cost of triage and ambulance stations set up along the shoreline, officials said.

"False distress calls like this tie up valuable assets like helicopters and boats, and put our crews at risk every time since we take every distress call seriously," said Rear Admiral Dan Abel, commander of the 1st Coast Guard District. "And they impede the ability of first responders like the Coast Guard and our partners to respond to real distresses where real lives may be in genuine peril."

Officials believe the hoax originated on land in either New Jersey or Staten Island, N.Y.

Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of six years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search, officials said.

The Coast Guard is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution. Anyone with information can contact the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service anonymously at 646-872-5774 or 212-668-7048.