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Worrisome new scam targets Hawaii’s Realtors to get at their clients

Joey Ann Staggs, a Realtor with Engel and Volkers, has gotten a number of calls in recent weeks from scammers pretending to be from HECO.
Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 4:10 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 29, 2021 at 5:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Joey Ann Staggs, a Realtor with Engel and Volkers, has gotten a number of calls in recent weeks from scammers pretending to be from HECO.

They demand her clients’ information by threatening that the power is about to be shut off.

“They asked, ‘Can you get a hold of your client? I have to do some disconnection.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about,’” said Staggs.

She says she’s gotten repeated calls and texts over the past couple of weeks.

“He said this is Ben from HECO and we need to get in touch with your client. I said I just got a message today that this is a scam. You are not real and he said you are no help at all and he hung up,” said Staggs.

Kay Mukaigawa, Engel and Volkers president and principal broker, has been getting hounded, too.

“He calls over and over. He calls three or four times until I finally picked up,” she said.

She says at first the text messages seemed legit.

“A text also telling me they are going to cut off the electricity for one of our owners,” said Mukaigawa.

She says a dozen of her agents have been getting the scam calls, but none gave out personal information of their clients.

“I warn our agents to be careful and it’s just sad that they are praying on innocent people,” she said.

Added Staggs: “I think it’s easy for the scammers to think let’s get a hold of them because they’ve got all the information of their clients.”

HECO says it’s not aware of anyone that got scammed, but some almost fell for it.

“We did have situations where they did end up contacting their customer or their client and then the client goes through the steps and then realizes, ‘hey something is wrong,’” said Shannon Tangonan, HECO spokesperson.

The utility says besides bills, it sends emails, but never asks for payment within that email.

HECO says customers can report on their website.

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