Amid increase in internet crime reports, data shows kupuna most vulnerable

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – According to the FBI, 408 internet crime reports involved kupuna with a total loss of over $10 million.

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Scott Spallina said seniors were more likely to isolate over the last two years.

“I think that COVID has turned a lot of people that were resistant to going online, to making online a necessity,” Spallina said.

Spallina founded the Elder Abuse Unit and said one of the sad things they’re seeing are romance schemes.

“And we’re seeing a lot of seniors losing tens of thousands of dollars because unfortunately seniors are lonely,” Spallina explained. “They’re not that sophisticated electronically and they’re easy targets for some of these scam artists.”

Spallina said they’re also seeing kupuna fall prey to email scams about natural disaster relief as well as investments that promise big payouts.

“We’ll get calls from seniors saying someone promised me great returns on cryptocurrency and as like a buzzword these days, do cryptocurrency that’s a get rich quick scheme,” said Spallina. “But they don’t understand what cryptocurrency is.”

“And when you go through all of the machinations to pay them in cryptocurrency, it’s much harder to recover those funds,” said Ryan Ozawa, cyber security expert.

He foresees internet crimes involving cryptocurrency to grow and adds that cybercrime will heighten as technology advances.

“As soon as there’s a new tool to make life easier, that same tool is going to be used to scam somebody, unfortunately,” Ozawa explained.

Ozawa suggests reconsidering the types of devices you’re using especially for the elderly.

“So as your parents get older, I generally encourage their kids to set them up with tablets or phones, which have more lockdown operating systems than giving them full desktop computers or laptops,” Ozawa explained.

If you know someone older, take it upon yourself to help change their passwords, turn on two-factor identification, and don’t be fast to open attachments.

Also, remind them not to believe 99% of what they see online.

“Because there’s a lot of fake friends out there, there’s a lot of predators out there,” said Spallina. “And they’re very, very good at pretending to be somebody that they’re not.”

If you feel you have been targeted and victimized, the FBI says to report it.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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