HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's an old scam that may have reached a new generation of crooks thanks to a popular television show: a skateboarder, bicyclist or pedestrian fakes that he's been hit by your car and demands cash to avoid calling the police.
Hawaii News Now has documented three such incidents on Oahu in recent months and there are probably many more that went unreported. Three men who are co-workers and drive vehicles for work in the wee hours of the morning by themselves all said they were targets of the scam.
The AMC network drama called "Better Call Saul" about an unscrupulous defense lawyer featured kids faking a pedestrian accident and trying to extort money from the driver in its first episode early this year.
"All of a sudden, impact. And I hit the brakes, and I ran outside and there's this guy lying on the road. So I asked him 'Are you OK, you need an ambulance?" He says 'no.' He says he's OK," said Brian of East Honolulu, who told Hawaii News Now the same thing happened to him at the corner of Ward Avenue and Waimanu Street about 4 a.m. in late July.
He's asked to conceal his identity because he doesn't want the scammers to retaliate against him.
He still has this small dent on his van where the skateboarder in his twenties claimed he'd been hit. And the skateboarder had a friend with him who didn't have a skateboard, which Brian said he thought was suspicious.
"And he was going to stand up and his friend told him, 'No, no, stay on the ground, stay on the ground.' Then the friend makes the offer, 'If you give us cash, then we won't call the cops.' I knew already something was up so I called the police anyway."
Brian said the two men asked him three times for cash in exchange for not calling the police.
Police officers told him the skateboarder changed his story twice and his friend changed his story three times.
The Honolulu Police Department said Brian did exactly the right thing by calling 911.
"Suspects will usually leave the scene when the victim calls police because the suspects are looking for quick cash and do not want to be identified," HPD said in a statement.
Brian's co-worker confirmed to Hawaii News Now a second scam attempt in recent weeks while he was backing out of a parking stall at Kahala Mall.
"In his rear-view camera, he saw the guy slap his car and drop on the ground. And threatened him and he got hit too," Brian said.
The scammer ran away when a woman waiting for a parking stall confirmed he was lying.
And a third man told Hawaii News Now that a would-be scammer slid his moped under his moving vehicle in recent months at the corner of Kuhio Avenue and Kapuni Street in Waikiki at about 3:30 or 4 a.m.
Police know that many people don't report scam attempts like these. But they encourage drivers to call 911 and document these cases, so detectives can get descriptions of the suspects, as well as locations and times the scams occur to develop a pattern and make arrests.