Hawaiian Electric users are becoming victims through a scam method used by con artist that are exploiting the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency.
According to a report by Hawaiian news outlet, Khon 2, the objective is to target the cryptocurrency funds of Hawaiian residents making it a “new twist on an old scam” which sees scammers phoning customers of the Hawaiian Electric Companies to pay their overdue bills using Bitcoin or other digital assets.
The clients of companies such as Hawaii Electric Light, Maui Electric, and Hawaiian Electric, are conned into believing they have overdue bills and will be immediately disconnected from power if they do not instantly settle in cryptocurrencies.
Shannon Tangonan, director of corporate communications for electricity provider HECO, stated that many of the clients did not have outstanding bills but the scammers were able to convince them to pay:
“They weren’t even overdue, but the scammers sounded so convincing that these business owners were willing to pay. They actually went to a Bitcoin machine as directed by these scammers and fed cash into the machines, which then transfers it into digital currency.”
As well as phoning victims, the fraudsters would send to the electrical customers email notifications with ‘disconnection notices’ which would also contain the letterhead of the chosen power company.
As the policy with any operation all suspicious behavior should be approached with a great deal of caution. Jim Alberts, the senior vice president for customer service of the Hawaiian Electric Companies, commented:
“This is simply a new twist on an old scam, but our same advice applies: just hang up. Whether it’s Bitcoin, gift cards or money orders, our companies aren’t going to threaten you or have you running around town to meet unorthodox payment demands.”