Shoppers battle long lines, large crowds as stores open for Black Friday

Marketing manager talks about Black Friday at Ala Moana Center

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Bellies full of Thanksgiving food, thousands of Hawaii shoppers came out in full force on Black Friday for the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Stores opened as early as 5 p.m. on Thursday evening, and a number of shoppers said heading out on the holiday has become an annual tradition — with some of the deals being offered just too good to pass up.

“I wait a long time. A whole year, for only one day,” said shopper Tong Le.

Other shoppers camped out for hours starting from Thursday — even though some stores weren’t open until early Friday.

Rae Shimokawa was the first person in line for Eden in Love’s “Black Fri-cray” mega pop-up shop opening at Ward Centre. Doors opened at 6 a.m., but Shimokawa was there at 5:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

“I think the anticipation, the excitement and just the overall scenery of the whole pop-up shop is amazing,” Shimokawa said.

“It’s awesome. It’s actually before Christmas, getting 50% off on little gifts to give my family and friends, so it’s awesome.”

It was a similar scene at locations like Home Depot in Iwilei, where shoppers lined up with the shopping carts down the street. Shopping centers, like Ala Moana Center and Kahala Mall, also drew large crowds.

But as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, the FBI is urging people to be vigilant and protect themselves against scam artists.

The FBI warns that the schemes this year are pretty elaborate — from phony websites to gift card rackets to charity scams.

“With so much online shopping it’s a little easier for people to be more careless and not scrutinize the emails and websites," said FBI special agent Jason White.

White said that the FBI gets about 1,000 complaints a day about online scams during the holiday season. He said one of the most common schemes involves unsolicited emails.

Sometimes these emails say you have won a $100 gift or gift certificate and direct you to click on an attached link. “When you click them, those links can introduce some malware," he said. “Once in there, they can get your personal information, your credit card information, banking information.”

He said another common scheme involves a phony company urgently demanding payment of an overdue bill using a gift card.

“Those are always a scam. No legitimate organization is going to ask you to go out and buy a gift card and send them the information," said White.

There are also phony charity callers asking for donation using a credit card.

“One person may make the calls and tell you to call back another number to make your donations," he said.

Or, they’ll ask you to pay on their website, which looks identical to a legitimate charity.

But if you look closely the website address, it will end in .com and not .org like real charities are supposed to, White said.

White recommended that buyers avoid any offers that “sound too good to be true.”

“What people can do is to be vigilant. You have got to check your credit card statements, you have got to check with your financial institutions," he said.

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