comscore Scammers targeting seniors with false offer to do 'repairs' | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Kokua Line

Scammers targeting seniors with false offer to do ‘repairs’


QUESTION: Recently, my brother was almost a victim of a scam in Hawaii Kai. Driving home, he was followed by a car full of people and alerted by the driver that there were sparks from his exhaust pipe. He was told to pull over and told that an explosion might occur. The driver said he could fix the problem for $1,500. My brother is 78 years old. He explained that he did not have the money and was threatened. My brother went to a NAPA store nearby, and the suspects drove away. A NAPA employee told him there was never any problem with his exhaust pipe. My brother regrets that he did not get a license number. Can you please alert the public about these scam artists?

ANSWER: Your brother did the right thing.

There is a gang of scam artists, working in pairs or groups, who target seniors with various versions of this scam, said Honolulu police Sgt. Kim Buffet, coordinator of CrimeStoppers.

"We’ve had so many of these cases," she said.

"It’s hard to catch these people," she added, because often the victims can’t provide a license plate number or even a description of the vehicle or suspects.

"It’s hard because elderly people don’t pay attention to detail," Buffet said.

The scammers often will approach people saying their tire is flat or there’s a dent in the car and will block their way. Or they might stop by a house and say they can fix a window or do other repairs.

"They are criminals of opportunity, and unfortunately, they’re picking on the elderly," Buffet said. Some victims have lost thousands of dollars.

Buffet’s advice is to never stop for any stranger who flags you down for whatever reason. Get a license plate number, a description of the vehicle and person, then drive to the nearest police station, store or gas station. If possible, also get a name. If your vehicle supposedly has something wrong with it, have it checked at a service station.

If anyone has information about this scam, call the CrimeStoppers hot line at 955-8300.

QUESTION: What are the requirements for posting building permits at construction sites? I’ve noticed that a number of construction sites for commercial buildings in Hawaii Kai didn’t have building permits posted. My concern is that their construction hasn’t been reviewed to be safe.

ANSWER: Building permits are supposed to be posted in a conspicuous place on the construction site during the course of work, under Section 19-5.1(d) of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu.

The city Department of Planning and Permitting says you can report violations to the city complaints office: online by going to; by calling 768-4381; by e-mailing; or by writing to Director of Customer Service, Mission Memorial Building, 550 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813.


To the person who hit my cat Blondie and just left him to die on Kaaipu Street, at the entrance to Manoa Valley District Park on Monday night, Oct. 25. Blondie used to walk with me and my dog every night. There are a lot of cars, including big trucks and SUVs that drive into the park all the time, many going way too fast. Please, just slow down. If someone hits an animal, I can understand. It happens. But the least you can do is move it to the curb so it is not just lying out in the street. What goes around comes around. — Richard

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail


Comments have been disabled for this story...

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up