HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sgt. Chris Kim of Honolulu CrimeStoppers often gives talks to community groups, warning them about the perils of online romance scams.
This week, that message got a bit more personal.
Kim and his younger brother, Honolulu Police reserve officer John Kim, helped to thwart a con man who had used John Kim’s Facebook profile to bilk at least $10,000 from a Georgia divorcee.
“I actually speak on these subjects and these scams ... to senior citizen groups about how to protect yourselves from things like this from happening,” Chris Kim said.
He said the ordeal began Wednesday when the victim’s son on the mainland sent a message to CrimeStopper’s Facebook page, asking if he could get in touch with John Kim.
“I saw it was someone from Pennsylvania who was trying to reach out ... that their mother was involved in a romance scam and they needed help," Chris Kim said.
Family members said the scammer used John Kim’s Facebook profile to create a bogus alias named “Skil Abel." They said the man claimed to a military officer stationed in Kuwait.
“He reported that he was half Vietnamese, half Mexican and that he didn’t speak any Vietnamese," said Crystal, the victim’s daughter.
She said her family became suspicious because her mother never spoke directly to the man by video.
“My mom was like he has to protect himself, that he has a top secret mission," she said.
She said the man groomed her mother for about two months, telling her daily how beautiful she was. He also promised to give her mother $20,000 and 21 kilograms of gold.
“The story he told her was that it was traveling through Mexico and it got stopped in Customs and (she) had to pay the import fees,” said Crystal.
Crystal said the scammer also turned her mom against her and her siblings.
“It’s extremely upsetting that there are human beings like that,” she said.
The Kims said they spoke with the victim Wednesday night, confirming that she was being scammed.
“The look on her face was complete shock. ... She was a bit tearful. Oftentimes, she would stare into the camera to get a better look into my face," said John Kim.
Crystal said she was grateful the officers intervened.
“They gave us so much hope in all of this,” she said.