Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about scams known as “advance fee schemes.”
In one recent case, a 62-year-old Kona woman received a check for more than $6,000 that appeared to be from a known legitimate bank. Along with the check was a letter claiming she had won money in a lottery and advising her to deposit the check into her bank account and then wire a fee to the sender. The woman was suspicious and took the check to her bank, where she learned that it was counterfeit.
Financial institutions have informed police that these types of “advance fee schemes” are common. They can include claims of winnings, gifts, investments, loans or other proposed opportunities. The common factor is that the victim pays money to someone with an expectation of receiving something of greater value but doesn’t receive it.
The public is advised that if they receive a suspicious check they should take it to their financial institution to verify its authenticity. Recipients of questionable checks should not send any fee money until the check clears the bank.
The public should be particularly leery of companies that have only a Post Office Box number rather than a street address and don’t have a direct telephone line that is answered when called. The public is advised that if they are unfamiliar with a business they should check with the State Department of Consumer Affairs or the Better Business Bureau to see if it is legitimate and reputable.