Scammers take advantage of holiday spirit to solicit ‘charity donations’


The holiday put many people in a giving mood, but unfortunately, there are bad guys out there who will take advantage of your generosity.

The scams exploit several groups, including folks who have fallen on hard times, like the homeless or the poor, and folks caught in tragedy.

The scammers hope to profit from these sad stories, and can contact you by e-mail, text, regular mail, or phone, with the plea “give to the poor (or) charity fundraiser,” said Capt. John McCarthy with the Honolulu Police Department. “They use the holiday theme to play into your sympathy to get you to part with your money.”

In fact, police say December is the month they see the biggest spike in victim complaints.

“People put themselves in a better mood at this time of the year. They make better victims at this time than other times of the year,” McCarthy said. “We are a giving people. We want to help. We tend to respond to these things. We tend to give. What you’re actually doing is giving away your money to the bad guys.”

Here’s what should trigger your suspicion:

“I’d be very suspicious of any unsolicited email or text and, if I do decide to give, check it out first. Don’t automatically go with the impulse,” McCarthy said.

HPD says your donation is more likely to get to your intended recipient if you go through a major and known charity, rather than giving to a plea for help on social media.

“I can tell you nationwide, these scams net the bad guys millions of dollars — big, big money,” McCarthy said.

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