The state Department of the Attorney General's Investigations Division has opened a criminal investigation into an email fraud scheme involving false representations about compensation by the government of Ghana, the department announced Tuesday.
Emails from the addresses email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (sic) are being used to commit fraud and to attempt to steal money. Attorney General David Louie has no connection to any of the schemes or promises to transfer money from a foreign government.
Email fraud schemes have become very common and claim many victims, especially among Hawaii's elderly and vulnerable residents, department officials said.
In the latest email scam, the criminals say that the President of Ghana or various officials of the Ghana government have $1.8 million to be paid to the victim. They represent themselves as the Attorney General of the State of Hawaii to verify that the money is ready to transfer to the victim.
What actually takes place is that victims are required to pay various fees to prepare the money for transfer. They are asked to provide their bank information, though they never receive any payment.
Tips to avoid being a victim of cybercrime include:
* Not responding to unsolicited email.
* Not clicking on links contained within an unsolicited email.
* Only logging on to official websites of businesses.
* Contacting businesses by phone or in person.
* Never sending money, bank account numbers, birth dates, Social Security numbers, drivers license numbers or any other private financial information to any unfamiliar person or business.
Other scams have involved alleged promises of money, claims of a medical emergency, saying that a family member has been arrested or has become sick while traveling abroad, claiming a lottery has been won or that the victim has inherited a fortune.
Anyone who suspects they or a family member have been the victim of an email scam should contact the department's Investigations Division at (808) 586-1240 or email email@example.com.