Police warn public of phone ‘spoofing’ scams

The Hawaii Police Department is warning island residents to be aware of a telephone “spoofing” incident in which scammers used a police station phone number to illicit money over the phone.

On Monday, a telephone call was made to a woman from an unidentified man claiming to be a Social Security officer. The unidentified man reported that the woman’s Social Security number was being used on the mainland and that the police would be calling her to investigate the matter.

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Later that day, the female received a “spoof” call from the Hawaii Police Department’s nonemergency number, (808) 935-3311. The caller identified herself as Nola Green (fictitious) and stated that she was an officer with the Hawaii Police Department. “Green” advised her to purchase a “Safe Card” and to put her money onto the card.

“Spoofing” occurs when people make it appear as if their phone calls are coming from a different number. The call recipient sees the caller ID and believes the call to be from the true owner of the number when it isn’t.

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Police advise the public to be aware of callers who ask for personal information over the telephone. As a general rule of thumb, if you cannot verify the caller’s identity or you do not know who they are, do not release any personal information to them. Take steps to verify the identity of the caller before purchasing a money card or sending money via money orders, wire or checks.

Police recommend the following tips to “be a good witness”: Remember to note down information about the call, take notice of the caller (accent, gender, specific words used), verify the caller or number called from and when in doubt, call police for clarification using the department’s nonemergency number at (808) 935-3311.

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