Police: Scams targeting the elderly spike in Hawaii

Police: Scams targeting the elderly spike in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Andrew Quiocho is standing outside his mother's Kalihi apartment, watching all the cars that pull into the circle drive.

"It's 3:15, still got 15 minutes more," says Quiocho as he looks at his watch.

Quiocho's mother insists that a prize patrol will be visiting at 3:30.  She says she won a car and cash and was notified by a phone call.

"They told her that out of all the numbers in Hawaii, her home phone was picked on Donald Trump's computer," says Quiocho.

The caller -- from an 876 area code -- told his mother that they couldn't bring the prizes to Hawaii until she paid the taxes on it.  The 85-year old apparently used February's rent money and sent in a check.  The caller also asked her to get a 'green dot card,' which is a pre-paid card in the amount of $500.

"I'm trying to convince my mom it is a scam," says Quiocho.  But he says his mother refused to listen.  She called the whole family and they waited for the prize patrol, which never came.

"It's a problem and it seems to be really spiking right now," says Lt. John McCarthy of HPD's Financial Crimes Detail, "Where we used to get one, two, three a week, now it seems like it's one, two, three a day."

The Honolulu Prosecutor's Office has an Elder Abuse Unit which is also seeing the increase.

"I'm getting calls everyday," says Scott Spallina, who heads the unit.  "Desperate people calling my office asking how can I get these to stop."

Kauai Police also issued a press release today warning about recent scams.

It's unclear why the spike in the last few months.  It could be awareness, because more people are reporting it to police.  Or, it could be that the thieves -- often overseas -- realize that Hawaii's elderly are trusting.

Andrew Quiocho's mom was lucky, because her son got HPD involved quickly, the check did not clear and she will be able to pay February's rent.

Most victims do not get their money back and are left devastated, not only by the financial loss, but by the emotional one too.

"It tears families apart," says Lt. McCarthy, "The scammers -- like other cons -- tend to separate the victim from the family because they want them to believe in the scam."