Scam victim speaks out after losing $148K so others won’t suffer same fate

On Feb. 27, Violet received a call from a stranger who told her she won the “Megabucks Lottery.”

“They told me I won $2.5 million,” she said.

That’s when her nightmare began. The 93-year-old asked us to conceal her identity, but wanted to share her story so other kupuna wouldn’t suffer.

“My money is all gone already,” she said.

In order to collect her winnings, Violet needed to send the caller $455, so she did. The next day, the caller asked for $3,200.

“After that, it was like a daily phone call,” she said. “I thought I would have something back.”

Over the next five months, Violet got a call nearly every day for charges, some of which amounted to $10,000.

Eventually, the caller asked her to do some personal shopping, for which, he claimed, she would be reimbursed.

In April, she was asked to buy four iPhone 7s at $918 apiece. She even bought gold chains and watches. Her charges totaled more than $148,000.

“How does that make you feel?” KHON2 asked.

“Number one, stupid, that I should have really stopped halfway,” Violet replied. “(But) I not angry. I’m not angry. I can forgive them.”

The bank eventually informed her son of the withdrawals and he immediately filed a police report, then called Action Line.

But Violet’s calls haven’t stopped.

“I talked to him yesterday,” she said.

Violet is sharing her story “because I want people to know that are people outside in this world that are really dangerous. They’re in sheep’s clothing, and they’re really a bad wolf.”

According to AARP, scams are a billion dollar a year business. Many of these targeting the elderly. From lottery scams, to others with callers claiming to work for the IRS, Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP Hawaii state director, says education is key. “Fraud is really common and not just in Hawaii nationwide I think it’s because it’s really easy to get money out of people. People are so hopeful they want the silver bullet money will solve their problems.”

The Honolulu Prosecutors Office has recommendations when it comes to checking for warning signs of possible scams or financial abuse.
-Check for changes in banking patterns.
-Look for expensive gifts to others.
-Also check if your family member might have unpaid bills, even though they have money.

Along with checking bank accounts often, the prosecutors office recommends canceling any unused credit cards, and communicating with family members, asking them if they’ve spoken to anyone about money or gifts.

AARP Hawaii is putting on five Scam Jam events in August to educate Hawaii consumers about how to spot and avoid fraud. The events are free and open to anyone, not just AARP members, however registration is required. View a list of events below, and click here for more information.

Wednesday, August 9
9-11:30 a.m.
Hawaii United Okinawa Center
94-587 Ukee Street, Waipahu
Register online

Wednesday, August 9
5-7:30 p.m.
J. Walter Cameron Center Auditorium
95 Mahalani Street, Wailuku
Register online or call 1-877-926-8300 (toll-free)

Friday, August 11
9:30 a.m.-noon
HJCC Manoa Grand Ballroom
2454 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu
Register online

Saturday, August 12
9-11:30 a.m.
Church of the Holy Cross
440 W. Lanikaula Street, Hilo
Register online or call 1-877-926-8300 (toll-free)

Saturday, August 12
5-7:30 p.m.
West Hawaii Civic Center – Council Chambers
74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy., Kailua-Kona
Register online or call 1-877-926-8300 (toll-free)

AARP also sponsors the Fraud Watch Network, where consumers can call in and report scams and get help if they’ve been scammed. Call 877-908-3360 or click here for articles and tips on how to avoid scams.

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