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Scammers Impersonate Police to Steal Crypto in Hawaii

Jimmy Aki
Last updated: | 2 min read
Crypto Scammers

Authorities on the Hawaiian island of Kauai issued a June 10 advisory, warning residents about deceptive cryptocurrency scams. In these scams, fraudsters impersonate law enforcement officers to extort crypto payments.

The Kauai Police Department’s advisory details the deceptive tactics used by these scammers to defraud unsuspecting victims.

Crypto Scammers Demand Fines And Threaten Arrest

Scammers call potential victims and falsely claim that they have an outstanding arrest warrant.

The callers then threaten the victims with arrest unless they pay a cryptocurrency fine. Assistant Chief Kalani Ke emphasized that any call demanding payment should be treated with extreme suspicion.

To appear more credible, these scammers employ caller ID spoofing to disguise the number, making it seem like the call originates from a legitimate government agency.

The authorities further emphasized that Government-imposed fines can only be issued after a court appearance and must be paid through official channels, not in cryptocurrency.

Residents have then been urged to avoid answering calls from unknown numbers and never to confirm or share sensitive personal information.

“If they say they have the information and just need you to confirm it, don’t hang on, hang up,” the alert stated.

“It’s crucial to report such incidents to the Kauai Police Department and remember that law enforcement agencies will never call you to demand payment of any kind,” Chief Kalan reiterated.

The scam warning comes amid changes in Hawaii’s cryptocurrency regulations. The state’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs recently ruled that crypto businesses do not need to comply with money transmitter laws, which means they can operate as unregulated entities while adhering to federal guidelines.

FBI, Hawaii Police Warn of Escalating Impersonation Scam

Authorities have launched public awareness campaigns as impersonation scams involving law enforcement and government officials continue to become prevalent. This has become necessary as criminals can now purchase fake identities on the black market.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Portland Division has cautioned the public against the rise in crypto scammers masquerading as FBI agents, using threats and intimidation to extort victims.

These suspicious individuals employ cunny measures such as spoofing caller ID information to trick their victims into seeing them as legitimate federal agents.

The FBI clarified that no federal agency would contact individuals with threats of arrest or demands for monetary remittances. Recipients of such communications are strongly advised to disengage and report the incidents immediately.

Scammers often resort to aggressive tactics, insisting on secrecy and urgency while directing victims to make payments through various channels, including cash, gold, prepaid cards, wire transfers, or even crypto ATMs.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), in 2023 alone, over 14,000 victims fell prey to these schemes, resulting in losses exceeding $394 million.

The Portland Division itself has documented losses surpassing $1.7 million. Disturbingly, seniors have emerged as prime targets, accounting for over 58% of losses through impersonation crimes, amounting to nearly $770 million. Last year, Senator Elizabeth Warren highlighted the dangers posed by crypto scams targeting seniors.

“Last year, we saw a 350% increase in crypto investment scams targeting seniors. That is the biggest spike among all age groups,” Warren explained. “That added up to more than $1 billion that seniors lost in crypto scams. And because many victims don’t report their experiences – as some of you have noted – out of shame or fear, that $1 billion figure is almost surely an underestimate.”