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Hawaii County police warn public about 2 mail scams

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Hawaii County police are warning the public about two mail scams, including one claiming to be from Reader’s Digest and the other from an insurance company.

Police said a Hilo resident received a letter claiming to be from Reader’s Digest, promising a lump sum payout of $500,000. The letter, which had a $3,000 check enclosed, instructed the recipient to call a number for instructions.

Police called the number and the person answering, who spoke in a heavy foreign accent and identified himself as “Mr. York,” asked numerous personal financial questions.

He then gave instructions on how to cash the check and send the money via Western Union.

In another scam, a Hilo resident got a letter from a purported insurance company  claiming to have money from the dead relative’s insurance policy. The letter asked the recipient to fill out a W-9 (federal Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification) form, and to fax it and a copy of the person’s driver’s license to a number on the letter.

Police say the letters are scams designed so the recipient sends money back or gives out personal financial information.

The checks, police warn, are fraudulent, so anyone cashing the check will suffer financial loss.

Police caution people not to respond to suspicious letters requesting personal or financial information.

Police say many scams originate in other countries, making it highly unlikely that stolen funds can be recovered.

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