- Hawaiʻi police say they have received reports of different types of telephone and online scams affecting Big Island residents, and shared information in a recent news release.
From the Hawaiʻi Police Department:
Hawai‘i Island police are offering tips to help island residents keep their financial and digital information safe after receiving reports about different types of telephone and online scams affecting citizens in our community.
One of the scams includes criminals posing as police officers demanding money via wire transfer. Police remind the public that impersonating a police officer is a crime, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine for each offense upon conviction.
The Hawaii Police Department will never ask you to wire money. Payment is only needed after a service request, such as duplication of police reports and applications related to firearms. Payment is generally required once someone is charged for an offense and their bail is set. The only acceptable forms of bail payment at the local police station are cash or a bond through a licensed bail bonds company. When the bail payment is received you will be provided with a receipt.
The following scams have been reported most recently in the South Kohala district and may also be occurring in other parts of the Big Island. The scams include:
Spoofing is a type of scam that criminals use to make something, like a telephone number, appear to be legitimate. In one situation, a victim recently reported receiving several telephone calls, one of which was from a person identifying themselves as an officer with Hawaii Police Department. The local police station’s phone number was spoofed, giving the impression the call was legitimate and the suspect convinced the victim to wire them a large sum of money.
The second scam involves the scammer contacting a victim via e-mail, telephone, or some other means to inform them they have won a spectacular, life-altering prize. The scammer then convinces the victim to send payment in various forms, such as wire transfers, gift cards, pre-paid debit cards and cash.
Check payment for online sales scam
The third scam involves items for sale on popular online buy/sell websites and social media platforms. The scammer will contact a victim stating that they’re interested in the product and will send a check as payment. The check will be larger than the agreed upon price and the scammer will request the victim to send back the balance. Although the check initially appears to be legitimate, it ultimately will bounce.
The counterpart to this scam is when the scammer advertises an item at a sensational price preying on the victim’s desire to get a great deal. The target then sends payment for an item they subsequently never receive.
Google authentication code scam
Another type of online scam is when the scammer states they want to purchase an item from you, or reunite you with your lost pet, and will send you a confirmation code to prove you are a real person. The scammer will try to create a Google voice account using your phone number, which requires the confirmation code to activate it, or unlock your account with the confirmation code. The scammer will have a confirmation sent to your telephone number through Google and they will ask you for the number.
Once they are in possession of the authentication code, they can scam other people using your telephone number. Even more alarming, with enough information they can apply for fraudulent lines of credit using your information.
Police offer these useful tips to protect yourself from being scammed:
- When contacted by someone claiming to be a representative of an entity, ask for their name, identification number, or some other form of identification that can be traced back to the person. Independently obtain a telephone number for that entity and call them to confirm the validity of the call you received.
- If a caller claims to be with a law enforcement agency, ask that person to provide you with a name, badge or identification number, and the agency’s section they are representing. You can then use that information to independently verify the person’s credentials.
- Legitimate businesses and utility services accept traditional forms of payment and do not ask for payment in the form of gift cards or pre-paid debit cards.
- Always check with a trusted friend or family member prior to sending a large sum of money to someone, especially if you don’t know them personally.
- If you know the person you are sending money to, call them to confirm that they were in fact the person you were speaking to and that there is a legitimate reason to send the money.
- Be mindful of aggressive callers that try to intimidate and threaten you with legal actions. Ask them questions and be mindful of callers who get increasingly agitated when they can’t provide you with reasonable answers.
- When you locate an item online, inspect the photo and / or website carefully for anything that appears out of place and may indicate that the photo was not taken in Hawaii or the web address has been altered slightly to appear legitimate.
- Be cautious when you see telephone numbers with out-of-state area codes and generic locations listed which is a frequently used technique by scammers.
“If you are unsure or uneasy about a situation that you believe may be a scam, contact your local police station or call the Hawaii Police Department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311,” police say.