Be wary of scammers, police say, callers ask for money for relatives

Maui police are alerting residents about phone scams involving callers pretending to be relatives and asking residents to wire money to another state or out of the country.

Police reports are being made weekly by people defrauded by such callers, said Lt. Derrick Lopez of the Criminal Investigation Division Property Crimes Unit.

Callers claiming to be grandchildren, nieces, nephews or other relatives say they are in trouble with the law or in another difficult situation and ask for money to be sent, he said. In some cases, another person pretending to be a law enforcement officer or attorney will get on the phone to make the claim appear valid.

Lopez said callers have sought money from some residents on consecutive days, amounting to thousands of dollars that have been sent by Western Union or other wire services.

He recommends that people receiving such calls check with other family members to confirm whether a family member is actually in the predicament described. “If they are unsure, if they think they may be the victims of a scam, contact the Police Department,” Lopez said. “Don’t send the money first. Be more careful, be more cognizant.”

Another type of phone scam involves people claiming to represent Publisher’s Clearing House or other sweepstakes organizations and asking people to send money first to pay for taxes before they are sent winnings, he said.

“This is also false, and people are also advised to be aware of these scams,” Lopez said. “Don’t send money.”