Letters for Monday, December 4, 2006

• Don’t blame the bank

• Scammers targeting Hawai‘i

• Yes, you can do something

• What is the sanctity of an American marriage?

Don’t blame the bank

Regarding Christina St. Amant’s complaint (“No protection from check fraud,” Letters, Dec. 3) that she was the victim of a Nigerian check fraud scam and that it was Bank of Hawaii’s fault is ludicrous. Giving access to funds and actually having a check cleared are two different procedures. Nigerian check scams have received enormous publicity both locally and nationally for years. Bank of Hawaii is not responsible for a business person’s ignorance.

Bob Jasper


Scammers targeting Hawai‘i

I book vacation rentals for a living and had the same situation (“No protection from check fraud,” Letters, Dec. 3) in September. They claimed to be in England wanting to come to Kaua‘i for Christmas. They too wanted to pay with one money order and asked me forward the extra to a U.S. travel agent for their airline tickets. The red flag went up so I spoke with my boss, who agreed this was a scam.

Seems like these creeps are targeting Hawai‘i lately, so I hope everyone in this business starts paying attention!

I still have their name and e-mail address if it will help, but most likely the e-mail account used has been canceled, and there’s probably many out there attempting the same fraud.

They do make it sound very sincere, Christina, so don’t be too hard on yourself for buying into this scam.

Laurel Kenney


Yes, you can do something

The Nigerian check fraud scheme (“No protection from check fraud,” Letters, Dec. 3) has been prevalent in this country for several years. Regrettably, you may be out the money involved, but there is something you can do. Legally, the bank involved seems to be within their rights to hold you accountable for the loss. However, businesses do have a responsibility to their customers to conduct business in a fair, honest and conscionable practice.

When the bank is aware of this type of fraud, they have an obligation to alert customers. It is common practice for banking institutions to issue consumer alerts for credit card fraud, ATM and PIN number security and net scams such as “phishing.” It is unconscionable that banks issue such warnings only when they are the ones subject to monetary loss.

I would strongly recommend that you contact the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs’ Division of Financial Institutions and file a complaint against your bank. Although they can not pursue monetary restitution on your behalf, they can notify the bank of your complaint and require the bank offer a written explanation. Perhaps the main office of the bank will not agree with the quality of service provided by the branch service manager.

There may be grounds for a notice of violation to be issued to the bank based on trade practices by the DIF. Either way, the bank may reconsider (its) ability to help you resolve this loss. Should you not get satisfaction after dealing with DCCA, you can also pursue this matter in Small Claims Court, if the amount involved is within the court’s limits. Again, you will be putting the main office of the bank in a position to defend to a higher authority their failure to protect customers.

As a retired consumer affairs investigator from New York, I can tell you that in a situation like yours, the bank involved would have extremely difficult time defending the fairness, honesty and, most importantly, the integrity of (its) business practices.

Lyn Wulf


What is the sanctity of an American marriage?

I am writing in reference to the Media Voices piece by Kathryn Jean Lopez (“Who Will Protect Marriage in 2008?” Media Voices, Nov. 29). But I also intend to address the “issue” of same-sex marriage in general.

First of all, this gay marriage “issue” is really a non-issue. And I find the ways in which its opponents confuse the facts extremely frustrating. They tend to argue, albeit vaguely and without anything resembling any sort of facts or figures, that somehow, allowing gay or lesbian couples to wed would be eroding the sanctity of the institution of marriage. For example, in Ms. Lopez’s editorial, she writes “Marriage is fundamentally what it is between a man and a woman. [T]he debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage.”

Well, I admit it sounds noble, but here is the elephant in the room: What really is the purpose of marriage, in a country with an unprecedented divorce rate, where the average marriage survives but a few years (as opposed to “until death do us part”)? The fact is that for most of us, marriage is no longer what it once was, at least in theory: a lifetime union between soul mates. Let’s face it: Our “institution of marriage” in this country is a wreck. So it’s perfectly understandable that people would want to somehow bring a kind of meaning, and a sanctity, if you will, back into the institution of marriage.

But this is a completely separate issue from whether or not to allow gay couples to marry: Whether or not my fellow citizens (who might happen to be gay) chose to marry, or whom they chose to marry, is absolutely none of my concern — it doesn’t prevent me from marrying whomever I chose, and it certainly doesn’t in any conceivable way affect the sanctity — or lack thereof — of my marriage.

Sometimes, people argue on behalf of “the children,” insinuating that somehow allowing gay couples to marry and conceding them their right to raise their own children within that union will somehow be harmful to those children. But I see no evidence, or even a specific argument, of exactly how it might be harmful. I contend that having parents who are loving, devoted and committed has infinitely more relevance to a child’s well-being than the sexual orientation of his or her parents. In short, raising children and gay marriage are separate issues.

And finally, to those who have some moral or religious opposition, whatever it may be, to same-sex marriage: I can respect your beliefs, as such. But those are your beliefs. Other people may have beliefs of their own, and to them, their beliefs are just as valid. You don’t have to agree with them, or even understand them, but it is not, it cannot be, your place to dictate to them whom they choose to fall in love with, and whom they choose to marry.

Sky Roversi-Deal



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