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State probes unclaimed property scam

July 13, 2012
The Maui News

HONOLULU - An email scam in which the sender falsely claims to represent the State of Hawaii Unclaimed Property Branch to obtain personal financial information is being investigated by the state attorney general.

The email claims to be written by Department of Budget & Finance Director Kalbert Young, a news release Wednesday from the attorney general's office said.

The state does not send email solicitations regarding unclaimed property.

Those receiving such an email should know that it is fraudulent and should not be trusted, the news release said. Do not respond or provide any personal information in response to the fraudulent solicitation.

In this email scam, the sender claims to be an employee of the UPB. The message informs the recipient that he or she is an heir to the estate and property of a deceased relative and instructs the recipient to either fax or email personal information so that the process to record ownership of the property can begin.

In a number of instances, the emails list Young as the writer.

The scam is sophisticated in that it also provides a form that includes the State of Hawaii seal but does not match any form that is currently used or offered by the UPB.

The majority of inquiries to Budget & Finance have come from the Mainland and not local residents. However, since the method of solicitation is via email and references a Hawaii-based program, the state cannot rule out solicitation of Hawaii residents.

In addition, the email solicitation method makes it difficult to ascertain where the perpetrators are based.

"A person engaging in this conduct has committed a felony," said Attorney General David Louie. "Anyone committing this crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and may be charged with offenses such as identity theft, computer fraud and any and all other applicable criminal violations."

People who have been solicited as part of this scam may assist the developing investigation by providing copies of any and all direct communications they have received. This includes email, faxes and records of telephone conversations.

People who think they may have been a victim of the scam may contact Budget & Finance - Unclaimed Property Branch directly at (808) 586-1589.



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