Scams targeting Hawaii's elderly on the rise - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Scams targeting Hawaii's elderly on the rise

Posted: Updated:
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

They're a growing problem in Hawaii: sweepstakes targeting the elderly.

But in a new twist, the con artists are getting more aggressive by going straight to the doors of their victims.

"It's a frightening feeling. We have elderly parents and elderly relatives and they get involved in this it's bad enough. But when you have people showing up to take things, it becomes much more invasive," said Lt. John McCarthy of the Honolulu Police Department.

In one case, police said scammers from Jamaica recently sent a taxi to pick up a Punchbowl woman after telling her she won several million dollars and a luxury car. The taxi then sent the woman to Wal-Mart so that she could send them $800.

The transactions was halted after family members intervened.

"The family was terrified. They literally moved their mother out of the house within hours," McCarthy said.

Here's how the scam usually works: An elderly victim usually received a phone call or an email, saying they won the lottery or a sweepstakes. Then they're asked to hand over thousands of dollar, never to see the money again.

The losses range from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the Hawaii Better Business Bureau, sweepstakes scams are the most common in Hawaii with more than 2,700 cases last year. The next closes scam had just 134 reports.

"The sweepstakes scam is particularly vile because it has the potential to completely wipe out a family. It has the potential to deplete an owner's savings," said Gregory Dunn, CEO of the Hawaii BBB.

In the next few months, BBB will team up with law enforcement, banks and nonprofits to keep better track of scams and try to stop them before they spread.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.