LIHUE — In light of recent scam alerts, the Kauai Police Department encourages residents and businesses, particularly the elderly community, to be aware of potential scams.
“Unfortunately, once a person willingly gives their money to a scam artist, it is very unlikely that those funds will be recovered,” said Darryl Perry, police chief. “The thought of being able to gain exponential returns on your investment is a very tempting offer, especially for those who are struggling financially, so it’s important that citizens know how to spot a scam to avoid becoming a victim.”
Some of the more common tactics involve scams that impersonate an organization to which you may actually owe money, such as the Internal Revenue Service. However, the IRS will never call a person to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes over the phone without first mailing you several bills and giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
Other scams may promise the victim a large monetary payout or a new car, but only after he or she wire transfers money to the caller, supposedly to cover taxes or processing fees.
Some con artists use simple requests via letter, e-mail or popular social networking sites, while others develop a more in-depth relationship with a victim over a period of time. A scammer will set up a fake social media profile and develop a level of trust with the victim, all the while learning more about the victim’s personal life and financial situation. Once that friendship is established, the scammer could plea for financial assistance to get out of hardship, or the scammer could weave a story of financial success and encourage the victim to “buy-in” to a business to reap similar benefits.
“The bottom line is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Perry warned. “Never give your information or send money to unknown individuals. If you believe you are being contacted by a legitimate person or business, hang up and call that person or company back at a publicly listed phone number.”
If you suspect a scam, please call the Kauai Police Department at 241-1711.