LIHU‘E — Over the last two years, victims of scams on Kaua‘i have lost at least $50,000 collectively, according to the Kaua‘i Police Department.
A recent string of scam alerts has KPD reminding residents to be aware of potential fraud, especially during the holiday season.
In one case, KPD was able to help cancel a $150,000 wire transfer and return the money to the victim. But that was already after the victim had sent over $20,000 in gilft cards.
“This is just one example but there have been many more that are similar in nature,” Coco Zickos, a KPD spokesperson, said.
In one example, scammers have impersonated federal law enforcement, saying that a victim’s social security number was connected to a crime.
“To clear their name, they have to send money, usually via gift certificates,” Zickos said. “The scammers usually stay on the phone with the victims and walk them through the purchase. The scammers tell the victims to not contact local authorities or they could get into more trouble. In some cases, the scammers ask for the victim’s social security number.”
Scammers ask victims to withdraw funds to purchase gift cards to help transfer money.
“Please know that law enforcement officials would never contact someone like this and ask for money,” Investigative Services Bureau Lt. Kennison Nagahisa said. “These scams are especially harmful to people who are more vulnerable in our community like our kupuna. That said, the scammers of-late have gotten very savvy in their methods and have been able to convince people of all ages.”
KPD urged residents to not provide personal information or send cash to anyone without first verifying their identity. If you ever have doubts or concerns, please contact KPD Dispatch immediately and file a report.
Scams can also become more apparent during this time of year when many legitimate organizations participate in fundraising events for charity, so it can be tempting to participate.
The holidays are also a time when scammers solicit “free money,” which can be more inviting to potential victims.
Residents are reminded to use the following scam prevention tips:
• Do not answer or return calls from unknown numbers
• Be wary of suspicious payment methods
• Use caution when responding to unsolicited calls or e-mails, or unknown individuals on social networking sites
• Check your bank, credit card and phone statements regularly. If you see an unknown or unauthorized charge, immediately notify your bank or service provider.
• If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
• Senior citizens are often targets for scam artists as they tend to be more trusting of unknown individuals. Responsible family members should help to keep them safe.
“Generally the scams are all the same, the scammer just changes the theme (fear, loneliness, empty promises of large sums of money) to hook the victims,” Zickos said.
If you suspect a scam, please call KPD at 241-1711 to file an official police report.
Source: The Garden Island