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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , wildfires   

    Grim scam targets Maui residents 

    Grim scam targets Maui residents

    By Greg Collier

    The poor people of Maui. If it wasn’t bad enough that they’ve suffered through the country’s worst wildfire in a century, they’ve had to protect themselves from a plague of scammers. If it’s not mortgage scammers, charity scammers, or FEMA impersonators, it’s predatory people trying to buy their property for pennies on the dollar. Now, the people of Maui are being targeted by one of the most deplorable scams we’ve seen yet.

    As you may know, over 100 people lost their lives in the fire, with over 1,000 still missing. Countless families are looking for some kind of closure, whether it’s to reunite with them or lay them to rest. Due to the nature of the fire, many remains have yet to be identified. Enter the scammers.

    According to Maui County officials, some residents have been receiving calls from someone claiming to be from ‘DNA Services’. These calls are believed to be offering residents assistance in help identifying the remains of their loved ones, for a fee, of course. The county claims this is a scam and should be reported to local police at their non-emergency number.

    Currently, there is only one official location that is helping residents identify loved ones. That’s the Family Assistance Center at the Hyatt Regency’s Monarchy Ballroom in Kaanapali.

    We don’t often get emotional here, but this may just be the most reprehensible scam we’ve ever heard of. This may even top the recent spate of funeral home scams.

    The people of Maui still need our help. It’s been recommended that if you want to donate to help the people of Maui directly, the best place to donate is the Maui Food Bank.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 15, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , wildfires   

    Maui wildfires bring out the scammers 

    Maui wildfires bring out the scammers

    By Greg Collier

    In case you haven’t been following the news, the island of Maui in Hawaii has been experiencing the worst wildfires in over a century. And whenever there is a natural disaster of this scale, the scammers are sure to follow. In that vein, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is trying to get ahead of the scammers and has issued a warning not only to the residents of Maui, but also those looking to help the victims of the fires.

    The first type of scam the FTC is warning residents about is the FEMA impersonation scam. After natural disasters, scammers will often impersonate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to try to get personal information or money from victims of the disaster.

    Fraudsters masquerade as FEMA representatives and contact individuals, offering aid related to disaster relief or financial support.

    These impostors deploy a variety of tactics to target potential victims, utilizing means like phone calls, emails, text messages, or social media posts. They might assert that the person has been granted financial aid, or insist on the need for personal particulars to facilitate aid distribution.

    After winning the victim’s confidence, the scammers proceed to request sensitive personal and financial data, including Social Security numbers, bank account specifics, or credit card particulars. Additionally, they might solicit funds or persuade the victim to acquire gift cards under the guise of receiving assistance.

    In actuality, authentic FEMA representatives never solicit personal or financial details through phone calls or emails, nor do they ask for monetary contributions or gift cards as prerequisites for disaster relief. Should you receive a suspicious communication purporting to be from FEMA, it’s advisable to directly contact the agency to authenticate the legitimacy of the message.

    Then there are the charity scams, which almost always appear following a disaster like this. Individuals seeking to contribute to a relief fund should exercise caution when encountering phone or email solicitations from entities with generic names such as ‘Disaster Relief Fund’. If a charitable organization seems to be exerting undue pressure on you to donate, whether via phone conversations or online platforms, there’s a strong likelihood that they are operating as scammers.

    You have the option to verify a charity’s authenticity by visiting platforms like Charity Navigator and Give.org. These resources can provide insights into which charities are genuine and which ones should be approached with skepticism. Additionally, you can cross-check with the IRS to determine whether a charity is officially registered with them; this step significantly contributes to establishing the legitimacy of the charity.

    And please keep in mind, you can always donate money or blood to the Red Cross. This will not only help the people of Maui but the victims of other disasters as well.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blackouts, , , , wildfires   

    Scammers take advantage of rolling blackouts 

    By Greg Collier

    Many areas in the western part of the US are either dealing with wildfires or they’re trying to prevent them. This often requires power companies to schedule rolling blackouts to try to ensure that power infrastructure doesn’t exacerbate the problem. The power companies notify their customers when these outages are scheduled to take place, but not every customer gets the message, unfortunately.

    This has led to a dramatic increase in the shut-off scam. This is when scammers will call their victims, posing as the power company. They’ll tell the victims that they’re behind in their payments and their service will be shut off in 30 minutes. The scammers will then demand payment in largely untraceable means, such as gift cards, cryptocurrency, or payments through apps like Zelle and Venmo.

    Now, scammers are using the rolling blackouts to prove to customers that their power is actually being terminated. If the power were to stop working while a scammer was on the phone with their victim, that could lead the victim into making a panic payment.

    If you live in an area dealing with wildfires or is in danger of wildfires, keep an eye on your local news or your power company’s website. This way, you’ll be better prepared if a rolling blackout affects your area.

    But at the end of the day, this is the usual shut-off scam, just with better timing. Your utility companies will never call you and threaten you with service termination. If your account balance is behind, you would receive a notice in the mail about any scheduled termination. Also, utility companies will never ask for payment in non-traditional means like cryptocurrency.

    If you receive a call like this, or even have someone show up at your home claiming to be a power company employee, call the power company directly at the phone number on your statement. No legitimate utility is ever only going to give you 30 minutes notice before shutting off your service.

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