Report A Scam

CyberHawaii encourages you to immediately report scams received via email, text message, phone call, etc. to the FBI, FTC or Better Business Bureau. We would also like to ask you to send us a detailed description of the scam received to cyberhi@cyberhawaii.org and we will alert our CyberHawaii members of incidences occurring within our community.

Reported Scams

August

“Scam PACs” are on the rise. It’s an election year and political action committee (PAC) scams are on the rise as well.  According to the U.S. Center for Public Integrity, donors contributed $101 million to “scam PACs” in 2017-2018.  Donors mistaken these PACs for public charities due to name confusion. The names of some of these “scam PACs” are listed below:


Source: Charity Watch

Instead of helping veterans, cancer victims, first responders, “scam PACs” spend the money on fundraising, wages, and administrative costs.  For more information on how to avoid charity scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

July

FTC Reports Highest Volume of Complaints Related to Undelivered Orders.  According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) blog post on July 1, 2020, the FTC experienced the highest volume of online shopping complaints in April and May 2020—half of the complaints were about missing packages and undelivered orders.  Reports show that early in the pandemic, fraudulent retailers collected payments for hard-to-find products (face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.) but never delivered on the products.

To avoid problems when you shop online:

  • Check out a seller before you buy. Type the website or company name into a search engine with words like “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”
  • Pay by credit card. If you’re charged for an order you never got, contact your credit card company and dispute the charge.
  • Keep copies of the product description, price, receipt, and emails between you and the seller, including messages about shipping delays.

If you see a scam, or want to report a problem about online shopping, please tell the FTC at FTC.gov/Complaint.

Avoiding a cryptocurrency scam. In July 2020, some high-profile people — Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Kanye West, etc. — had their Twitter accounts hacked by scammers who sent out fake tweets asking followers to send money using Bitcoin. According to the FTC, cryptocurrency scams are now a popular way for scammers to trick people into sending money, because it is almost impossible to get the money back.

If you spot a cryptocurrency scam, report it immediately to the FTC. For more information about cryptocurrency, visit FTC’s website.

June

Scammers Impersonating Contact-Tracers:  Governor David Ige’s office put out a press release on June 23 warning Hawaii residents that scammers are impersonating contact tracers in an attempt to acquire personal information. Red flags that the caller may be an impersonator include asking for your personal Social Security number, bank information, or a form of payment. For more information, view the press release online.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Dashboard: The FTC is making more state-level information available to the public about the complaints it receives from consumers related to COVID-19.  You can find national and state-level data on the FTC’s new interactive COVID-19 complaint data dashboards.  For more information, click here.

The FTC began releasing COVID-19-related complaint data in late March 2020. So far, the FTC has received more than 91,000 total COVID-19-related complaints between January 1 and June 8, 2020. Consumers have reported losing a total of more than $59.2 million to COVID-19-related fraud.

Scambusters.org warns of five new COVID-19 related scams: the U.S. FTC sends warning letters to 50 firms that falsely advertised products and services to treat the virus; scammers pose as respectable organizations sharing malware-infected excel spreadsheets about COVID-19 data; scammers pose as contact tracers; scammers pose as breeders; Target is not giving away “free groceries”—beware of the latest phishing scam.

Scambusters.org warns of 5 new COVID-19 related scams: 

  1. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent warning letters to 50 firms that are falsely advertising products and services to treat or prevent the virus. For more information, click here.
  2. Malware-infected Excel spreadsheets—coming from scammers posing as respectable organizations sharing data about the pandemic—are being sent out as email attachments.  Don’t click on them!
  3. Scammers are posing as members of contact tracing teams and asking for personal information such as Social Security numbers and financial account details over calls or text messages.  Genuine tracers won’t ask for this information.
  4. Scammers are posing as breeders online and accepting payments for adorable pets—make sure you are dealing with a legitimate breeder.
  5. The latest “free groceries” phishing scam claims that Target is giving away products.  The link contains malware.
May

COVID-19 Related Scams

If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the U.S. Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, or another government agency offering COVID-19-related grants or economic impact payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams. Visit the U.S. Treasury’s website if you suspect economic impact payment fraud. Report Social Security scams about COVID-19.

Social Security Administration (SSA): The SSA is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures. SSA will not suspend or discontinue benefits because the offices are closed to the public for in-person service. Read this and other fraud advisories.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): HHS is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to COVID-19. For example, scammers are offering COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate. Learn about this and other COVID-19 fraud from HHS. [source: Social Security Administration]

United States Postal Service (USPS):  The USPS has issued a public service announcement about COVID-related scams in the mail, including scams about stimulus checks, COVID cures, personal protective equipment, etc.  For more information, please visit the USPS website.

U.S. Census Bureau:  The Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census.  Furthermore, the Census Bureau will never ask for:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Anything on behalf of a political party.
  • Money or donations.

If you suspect fraud, call 844-330-2020 to speak with a Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program:  There are numerous scams targeting small businesses interested in the Paycheck Protection Program.  For example, a recently reported scam involves a malicious PDF included in an email from “disastercustomerfunding@sbaa-gov.com.”  Do not click links or download attachments; instead go directly to the SBA website.  Report suspected scams to the SBA’s hotline at (800) 767-0385, or file a complaint online.

U.S. Treasury:  Unsolicited phone calls, text messages, or emails purporting to be from the Treasury Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, FinCEN, OFAC, the Treasury “Office of Legal Affairs”, or even from the Secretary of The Treasury, are frauds.  U.S. Treasury fraud alerts can be found on their website.