Police warn of new telephone scam 03-12-03

PHONE: 961-2244
MARCH 12, 2003


Big Island police are warning residents about yet another telephone scam, the third such warning issued this month.

Under the most recent scam, the victim receives a telephone call from someone who promises the victim he has won $150,000. The catch is that before he can collect his winnings, the victim must wire $1,600 to an outfit located in Costa Rica in order to cover “insurance costs.”

The victim is told that to receive the money, he must call an “800” number in order to receive a PIN number to claim his “winnings.”

Two other telephone scams were reported earlier in March.

In the first scam, reported on March 6, 2003, an elderly woman was called by someone who said he was representing the “Overseas Lucky Corporation.”

The caller informed her she was one of 25 persons chosen to win a $5 million lottery. He told the victim there was a “one-time charge” of $498 for her to enter the contest.

Later, another person called back and told the woman she had actually won the jackpot. The second caller then asked her for her bank account number so the “corporation” could withdraw the $498.

The woman later discovered that more than $500 had been automatically withdrawn from her bank account, but she never heard back about her lottery “winnings.”

In the second scam, reported on March 10, 2003, a victim will get a call by pager or voice mail informing him of an emergency in the family, such as a parent’s death or an injured child. The victim will be told to “return” the call to a number with a prefix of “809” — similar to a “900” call.

Once the victim calls, he will be put on hold or get a lengthy recording. When the victim receives his next phone bill, he will find he has been charged $25 per minute for a foreign call to the Dominican Republic.

The average cost of the call has been estimated at more than $100.

The same telephone scam has been used with “284” and “876” prefixes.

Police advise victims of telephone scams to call the police non-emergency number at 935-3311. In addition, if there is a question of whether there is a scam or not, residents are advised to call the local Office of Consumer Protection at 933-0910, the toll free number of the Better Business Bureau in Honolulu at 1 (877) 222-6551 or the toll free number of the Federal Trade Commission at 1 (877) 382-4357.

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