HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Here’s an old scam with a new twist: The Better Business Bureau is warning Facebook users that a con artist is pretending to be a Hawaii politician.
State Rep. Gregg Takayama says this is actually the second time scammers hacked into his Facebook account and tried to exploit his followers via Facebook messenger.
HNN found out about this hustle first hand, after a Hawaii News Now photographer received a Facebook message from a person who appears to be Takayama.
After exchanging pleasantries the messaging quickly turns to money ― an “incredible investment opportunity.”
Using Takayama’s persona, the scammer then tries to convince HNN’s photographer to call his friend and put up $1,000 ― promising he’ll get $50,000 in return.
“So they’re banking on you going, ‘Yeah, this is a great deal,’” said Roseann Freitas, spokeswoman with the Better Business Bureau.
She said that’s it’s a common tactic for scammers to reach out over email or social media, pretending to be someone you respect.
“Some sort of authoritative figure,” said Freitas. “Whether it’s a CEO, whether it’s this politician. Or a lot of times they’re targeting churches and an email is coming from your pastor or your priest.”
Investment scams are on the rise.
According to the FBI, internet scammers stole nearly $6.5 million from Hawaii residents in 2018. That’s nearly double the losses from the previous year.
Freitas says one of the best ways to protect yourself is to pick up the phone.
“Call the person. Say, ‘Did you really send me this in messenger?’” she said.
"And just remember when it comes to anything on investment be careful. You should really be talking to your financial planner or your broker. And never do that without a phone call.”
Meanwhile, Takayama has also tried to confront the conman.
He left a message for the scammer, saying, “I wanted to follow up on an investment opportunity I understand is available.”
The lawmaker is looking forward to getting a call back.
If you’re the target of a scam, the BBB wants to hear from you so it can warn others. For more information, click here.