HONOLULU (KHON2) — A Honolulu woman is speaking out after nearly getting scammed for tens of thousands of dollars. She’s hoping her story would prevent others from making the same mistake.
This type of scam gets reported to Honolulu Police Department every so often. Officials said there are probably a lot more cases like this that don’t get reported.
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The 71-year-old woman has asked us not to identify her. She received an email about renewing an online subscription service. And there was a phone number if she wanted to cancel the service.
“The person I spoke to was very courteous and explained that if I wanted to cancel I could do it but they would have to do it online on my laptop,” she said.
So she gave them access remotely to her laptop which was a big mistake. She was supposed to get a refund of $450. But on her laptop, it showed that she got $45,000. The guy apologized and said she would need to wire back the extra money.
“What he wanted to do was for me to wire this money to an individual and this is where I started to feel a little strange about the whole thing,” she said.
Experts said one of the most important things is to not let a stranger get remote access to your computer.
“They can control her computer and because she has all her banking data, because she has passwords, and she has some private information, they have access to that,” said Scott Spallina, Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor.
To her credit, the woman did not send any money and immediately reported it to her bank. She had to get a new phone and probably a new laptop, but she knows it could have been worse. And she hopes others who see this will learn from it.
“So that’s why I’m here today. It’s sad but we live in a really scary world and we have to be vigilant,” she said.
Spallina said as many of these types of cases have been reported, so many victims don’t report them because they’re embarrassed.
“So we just know that for every case that we get, there’s dozens, if not, hundreds of cases that we’re not hearing about that are actually happening to people on Hawaii,” Spallina said.
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Spallina pointed out that people should not just reply to an email when money is involved. Instead, they should go to the company website. And if someone is rushing you to send money right away, that is a big red flag.