The State of Hawai`i Office of Consumer Protection is warning consumers of a new telephone scam in which consumers receive calls from potential scammers impersonating the Chinese Consulate.
Consumers around the country, including those in Hawai`i, have reported receiving calls or messages in mandarin Chinese demanding payment in exchange for a package or requesting information to prevent punishment from the consulate office. The caller then asks for bank or credit card information and instructs the consumers to transfer money to them.
“It’s truly outrageous that these scammers would try to prey on the vulnerabilities of recent immigrants”. “Anyone receiving such a call should hang up and not provide any information to the scammer,” said Stephen Levins, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the scammers appear to be calling from outside the U.S. and hoping to target ethnically Chinese people, including recent immigrants. The numbers appearing on the consumer’s caller ID may appear to be coming from a real Chinese consulate number, however, scammers are spoofing, or manipulating the caller ID to masquerade as representatives of the consulate.
To avoid falling victim to these types of scams, the Office of Consumer protection offers consumers the following tips:
- If you get a call or message like this, hang up or delete it.
- Never give out personal information, such as your Social Security Number, to a stranger on the phone.
- Never wire money through Western Union, MoneyGram, or any other wire service to a person you do not know.
- Never purchase gift or money cards for the purpose of providing the gift card numbers to someone else.
- Immediately contact the Office of Consumer Protection or the Federal Trade Commission.
Hawaii consumers may also visit the Los Angeles People Republic of China Consulate website to view notices of this scam in Mandarin.