HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Banks and the Better Business Bureau are reporting more scammers stealing money through payroll protection loans.
With so much money available, Roseann Freitas of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said scammers are applying for loans under business' names and transferring the funds to someone else or in this case a "money mule."
“They allow this PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) money to come into their account then they receive directions to send the money somewhere else and usually it’s outside of the country,” explained Freitas. The so-called mules think they are dealing with someone they fell in love with online.
“We’ve seen quite a bit of them being romance related schemes where it could be a male or female victim and they’re finding what they thought was love through the internet or online or it could be social media,” said Bank of Hawaii’s Director of Corporate Security, Brian Ishikawa.
The innocent middle person helps hide the scheme.
“It makes it harder for the investigators to find them,” said Freitas.
Victims could end up targeted by law enforcement, so people are advised to watch for danger signs.
“If they start to ask you to open an account, if they start to ask you to transfer money or send them money,” said Freitas. “Those are big red flags that you are probably being used for something illegal.”
“If they do see a credit that’s in their account, report it to their bank and don’t immediately spend it,” said Ishikawa.
Suspicious activity should be reported to the FBI, US Postal Inspectors or the BBB.