Police and CrimeStoppers are warning the public about a recent gift card scam that deceptively spoofs the phone numbers of a federal agency and the Honolulu Police Department.
Police say that a man claiming to be with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection called a woman, saying her Social Security number had been compromised, and that someone had opened a bank account using her name.
The man told her she would receive a call from an HPD officer to verify his identity.
The woman then got a call that appeared to come from the Wahiawa police station’s phone number. In reality, the scammer was employing spoofing, which makes it appear that he is calling from a particular number but was not.
Honolulu CrimeStoppers coordinator Sgt. Chris Kim said the number looked as if it were coming from police. “That’s why she fell for it,” he said, adding she thought “it must be legitimate.”
The victim believed she was speaking with a law enforcement officer, and was then instructed to buy numerous gift cards to purportedly ensure her protection and to text the activation codes to the scammer.
Law enforcement agencies, including HPD, will never contact the public and request gift cards to be purchased as payment for services.
Although this is the only case police know of, this incident just happened and often people are afraid or embarrassed to come forward, Kim said.
Call police if you receive these types of messages.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to Call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300; or send anonymous web tips to honolulucrimestoppers.org or via the P3 Tips app.