East Hawaii News

UPDATE: Public Reporting More Scams Via Phone, Email

March 4, 2014, 6:38 PM HST
* Updated March 25, 9:31 AM
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***Updated March 5.***

It seems to be the season of the scams.

Coming on the heels of warnings about unscrupulous activities from several state agencies, the Hawaii Police Department is informing the public about more scams delivered by both telephone and emails.

In the most recent, police today warned the public about an email sent to a Puna man containing an attachment containing a computer virus.

The email purportedly from a real estate agent claimed the man’s home would be seized because of suspected illegal activities. The “agent” offers to help the recipient vacate his home within 30 days or face fines or jail time, and then directs him to information in the attachment.

The police department does not seize residential property without a court order, and citizens are not subject to criminal fines or jail sentences without going through the judicial process.

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Police say the public should not open email attachments from unknown senders, as they often contain viruses that can infect computers and might ask for personal information that could allow the sender to steal the recipient’s identity.

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Police recommend deleting unsolicited emails with attachments.

Dangerous attachments can also be spread by computers of friends and acquaintances which have been infected and which then attempt to spread the virus using the computer’s email address book.

Police also reported three new telephone schemes targeting a Keaau couple.

The couple reported that the first was from a caller telling them they had won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse prize of several million dollars, and that someone would arrive in a couple of hours to deliver it. The area code from which the call was made was in Jamaica, the couple said.

The next was a call to their home phone by a woman with a foreign accent who asked questions about their computer. The caller ID on that number was blocked, they said.

The third involved a late-night call from Arkansas with what was described as a “mechanical female voice” claiming the couple’s Master Card had been blocked. After hanging up, the couple researched the scam and learned that the caller’s next step was likely to ask for information about the credit card.

All three incidents occurred within a two-week period.

As they did recently with a scam involving utility bills, police are urging the public to be suspicious of requests for personal information made over the phone or internet, and to not provide such information without first verifying independently that the request is legitimate.

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