HONOLULU (KHON2) — Criminals are always changing their approach to scams and the Hawaii Police Department are warning the public about some of the latest types they’re seeing.

Big Island police have received reports about the following scams:

Criminal acts as police officer

Criminals have been posing as police officers to trick people out of their money. The scammers threaten and ask the target to wire money for a particular offense or service but the Hawaii PD said they would never ask for a person to wire money.

Spoofing communications

Criminals have found a way to make telephone numbers appear to be from a legitimate office. HPD said a person received a phone call from what looked to be the police station. The scammer was able to talk the victim into wiring money.

You won a prize

Scammers send the intended victim a communication that they have won a life-altering prize. In return, the scammer asks that the victim send them money by way of wire transfer, gift card, pre-paid debit cards or cash.

Items for sale

If you’re selling something online or on social media and receive an offer of a check, beware. Police said the scammer will send a check in an amount that is more than the agreed upon price and will ask the victim to send them the balance. The check eventually bounces and the victim is left out of pocket and potentially without the item they were selling.

If you see an item for an outrageously low price, it may also be a scam. The victim is asked to send the scammer money for an item that they will never receive.

HPD offers these tips to protect yourself and your money

  • 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. 

Victims or those who believe they are potential scam victims should call their local police station. On Big Island, that number is (808) 935-3311.