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Police Offer Tips in Light of Recent Email Scams

by Thunda

The Hawaiʻi Police Department would like to warn the public about a recently reported e-mail scam.

Several individuals have reported unauthorized changes to their payroll direct deposit accounts.  In this scam, commonly referred to as a Business Email Compromise payroll scam (BEC), the scammer utilizes a real employee’s name, usually found via an internet search, to send an email to that person’s human resources or finance department.

The email will usually be sent from a fictitious account but may appear similar to the true address or utilize the victim’s name. In the email, the scammer will ask for the individual’s direct deposit to be moved to a different bank (utilized by the scammer) and will submit associated paperwork via this email account. Since the email uses an employee’s name and similar email address the change is then processed. The victim may not realize this happened until they don’t receive their next direct deposit.

Variations of this scam utilize popular cash transfer applications as the sender claiming a large deposit or refund and request the user to click on a link to confirm.

Police advise anyone who receives email requests dealing with financial information to first verify the request is legitimate. One way to do this is by personally contacting the sender either in a separate email, via telephone, or in person. Also, if an email contains a website link to click on to update account information or to make a payment, police advise the public to open a separate internet window and navigate directly to the website to ensure the request is valid.

Often, in email scams, the included website link will take the individual to a fraudulent site which will then be used to gather personal information such as banking and credit card information. In any event, the public is advised against sending money to anyone or changing financial information unless they are sure the request is legitimate. 

Scams, such as this one, can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission via their website at Additional information about recently reported scams can also be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s website at

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