Hawaii political figures warn public about email, phone scams - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii political figures warn public about email, phone scams that targeted them

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Two people well-known in Hawaii's political community are warning people to beware of email and cell phone scams that have affected them this week.

Gus Hannemann, the brother of former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, got a call on his cell phone a few days ago from a man who said Hannemann had won a sweepstakes prize. 

"They say that I'm entitled, I've won $450,000," Gus Hannemann said. 

Hannemann said he was immediately skeptical, because the caller said he'd need to send $2,080 via Western Union to Costa Rica, allegedly to avoid U.S. taxes, to claim his winnings. 

Plus, he said something else was fishy, because the caller had a strong accent and couldn't pronounce his first name correctly. 

"For one thing, anybody that cannot pronounce G-U-S.  He said it's "goose." And I could tell he had a foreign accent," Hannemann said, noting the call came from a Miami, Florida area code. 

"I want to put our senior citizens on notice: That please, when you get this kind of offer, don't get carried away.  There is no way that they would send you $450,000," said Hannemann, who's the acting director of the American Samoa office in Honolulu. 

The FBI's Honolulu office receives dozens of calls a week from people who've been targeted by similar advanced-fee sweepstakes scammers. 

"There's not a sweepstakes or a lottery on God's green earth that requires the winner to pay advanced fees to get their winnings. So as soon as you hear that, hang up the phone," FBI Special Agent Tom Simon, a spokesman for the agency's Honolulu office, said. 

Also this week, former State Sen. Norman Sakamoto's friends were surprised to receive this email from his Yahoo account that began, "Am writing this email with tears rolling down my cheek... "  

The email falsely claimed Sakamoto and his family were mugged while traveling in the Philippines and needed a quick $1,800 dollar loan. 

"My cousins on the mainland, even, some of them, were calling my wife saying 'Are you alright?' Although people get suspicious, many of them still want to reach out and just make sure," Sakamoto said.  

As is typical with many scam emails that may have been written out of the country, it contained awkward and incorrect English. 

"We've made a police report and being to the embassy but they are not acting fast," the email said. 

Sakamoto realized he'd been tricked by scammers who'd emailed him a message claiming to be from Yahoo and asking to confirm his password.  That's how they were able to get into his account and send the scam message to his entire address book. 

"It's not just me.  Because once I've talked to other people, there's multiple people who've had the same thing happen to them, so people need to be extra cautious," said Sakamoto, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor as a Democrat in 2010.  He now is a special assistant to the chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.

None of his friends or family got tricked into sending the scammers money, he said. 

"When you get these phishing emails claiming that they're from Yahoo or Hotmail or Gmail, saying that there's a problem with your account and you just have to enter in your name and password, don't fall for it.  These email providers do not contact you asking for your information," Simon, the FBI agent, said. 

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