HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Kauai Police Department is warning the public about the rising number of scams targeting seniors.
The scammers, who are impersonating law enforcement agents, tell victims that they’ve been linked to a crime through their social security number.
According to police, the victims are told that they must send money and/or gift cards to the scammers in order to avoid prosecution.
Victims often send large amounts of cash to various addresses throughout the country, sometimes in increments, or via online services like PayPal.
“This is particularly heartbreaking because our kūpuna are often vulnerable to these crimes,” said Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce. “If you have an elderly loved one, please check in on them and make sure that they are aware of these scams and that they don’t provide any kind of private information to unknown sources.”
Scammers are also impersonating companies like Amazon and vehicle warranty service representatives.
They are known to use a number of tactics to get victims to call them: email phishing, USPS mail, texts, social media and voicemails are some of the most common ways.
Police are also warning the community to be careful about making online purchases, especially those relating to vehicles and/or pets. The victims are asked to send money via wire transfer; after the funds are sent, the scammer stops communication.
Another recent scam is when a fake “lock” is created on a person’s computer that instructs them to call a number to fix the problem. The scammers ask for a one-time payment to resolve the problem. The scammers can now hack into the victim’s computer and steal their information.
“Many scams originate from a foreign country,” said AC Ponce. “And the trouble is that once the money leaves the United States, there is little possibility in recovering it or prosecuting the scammers. Scammers also use internet-based programs in order to disguise their phone numbers which makes tracing them nearly impossible.”
Police have released the following tips to prevent being scammed:
- Do not answer calls, emails, or texts from numbers that you do not recognize.
- Vet the company and do an independent search for the specific company’s phone number to call them back and speak with a representative.
- Law enforcement will never call you and ask for money in lieu of being arrested.
- Be aware of payment methods. No legitimate company will ask for payments via reading gift cards numbers off of the back of the card.
- Never give out personal information.
If you suspect a scam, call KPD at 241-1711 or go online to file an official police report.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of a scam or cybercrime, the FBI has an Internet Crime Complaint Center here.