Kauaʿi police are warning the public that there is a rising number of scams targeting kūpuna. More specifically, scammers are frequently posing as law enforcement agents. They are telling victims that they’ve been linked to a crime through their social security number.
The victims are told that in order to avoid prosecution, they must send money and/or gift cards to the scammers. Victims have been known to send large amounts of cash to various addresses throughout the United States, sometimes in incremental sums. Scammers also can request payment via 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.”
Aside from posing as law enforcement, scammers are also impersonating companies like Amazon and vehicle warranty service representatives.
Scammers are also known to use a wide variety of tactics to get victims to call them. Email phishing, USPS mail, text messages, social media, and voicemails are some of the most common ways to trick victims into calling scammers.
Police are also warning the community to be vigilant about making online purchases. There have been several cases where victims are scammed into purchasing vehicles and/or pets. The victims are asked to send money via wire transfer and after the funds are sent, communication from the scammer ceases to exist.
Another recent attempt to scam victims is when a fictitious “lock” is created on an individual’s computer that instructs the victim to call a number to fix the problem. From that point, the scammers ask for a one-time payment to resolve the problem. Moreover, at this point, the scammer can now hack into the victim’s computer and steal personal and confidential information.
“Many scams originate from a foreign country,” Ponce said. “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.”
The following are some tips to prevent being a victim of a scam:
-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 card numbers off of the back of the card.
-Never give out personal information.
If you suspect a scam, please call KPD at 808-241-1711 or visit kauai.gov/police and file an official police report. Additionally, if you believe you’ve been a victim of a scam or cybercrime, the FBI has an Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.