HPD: Beware “Advance Fee” Scams

The Hawai?i Island police Deartment has issued a  warning to the public about scams known as “advance fee schemes,” in which the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value—such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift—and then receives little or nothing in return.

“In one recent case, a 62-year-old Kona woman received a check for more than $6,000 that appeared to be from a known legitimate bank. Along with the check was a letter claiming she had won money in a lottery and advising her to deposit the check into her bank account and then wire a fee to the sender. The woman was suspicious and took the check to her bank, where she learned that it was counterfeit,” noted the HPD bulletin.  It noted that such schemes “can include claims of winnings, gifts, investments, loans or other proposed opportunities. The common factor is that the victim pays money to someone with an expectation of receiving something of greater value but doesn’t receive it. ”

According to FBI, “The variety of advance fee schemes is limited only by the imagination of the con artists who offer them. They may involve the sale of products or services, the offering of investments, lottery winnings, “found money,” or many other “opportunities.” Clever con artists will offer to find financing arrangements for their clients who pay a “finder’s fee” in advance. They require their clients to sign contracts in which they agree to pay the fee when they are introduced to the financing source. Victims often learn that they are ineligible for financing only after they have paid the “finder” according to the contract. Such agreements may be legal unless it can be shown that the “finder” never had the intention or the ability to provide financing for the victims.

Those who receive a suspicious check should take it to their financial institution to verify its authenticity. Recipients of questionable checks should not send any fee money until the check clears the bank. In general, if receive a check from someone or some company you never heard of, or for a lottery or contest you never entered, you should consider it suspicious.

“The public should be particularly leery of companies that have only a Post Office Box number rather than a street address and don’t have a direct telephone line that is answered when called. The public is advised that if they are unfamiliar with a business they should check with the State Department of Consumer Affairs or the Better Business Bureau to see if it is legitimate and reputable,” advises HPD.  Unfortunately, this may put businesses in many smaller Big Island communities at a disadvantage, since the post office doesn’t supply to-the-address mail delivery.

The FBI suggested the following tips for avoiding advance fee schemes:

  • Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. Depending on the amount of money that you plan on spending, you may want to visit the business location, check with the Better Business Bureau, or consult with your bank, an attorney, or the police.
  • Make sure you fully understand any business agreement that you enter into. If the terms are complex, have them reviewed by a competent attorney.
  • Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes or mail drops and do not have a street address. Also be suspicious when dealing with persons who do not have a direct telephone line and who are never in when you call, but always return your call later.
  • Be wary of business deals that require you to sign nondisclosure or non-circumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying the bona fides of the people with whom you intend to do business. Con artists often use non-circumvention agreements to threaten their victims with civil suit if they report their losses to law enforcement.


West Hawaii Phone Glitches Again May Compromise 911 Calls

For the second time in a week, problems with the phone system in West Hawaii may be compromising residents abilities to use the emergency 911 phone number

According to the  Hawaii Police Department, “Due to issues with phone services in West Hawaii, 911 and calls to the Police may be affected. It is requested that those needing police assistance who are having trouble making phone contact go to the nearest police station.”


Stolen Car Leads to Police Shooting Incident

A  police officer discharged his firearm in Mountain View this afternoon while attempting to intercept an alleged stolen pickup truck.

At approximately 2 p.m.,  officers, who were “on Route 11 attending to an unrelated incident,” encountered the  pickup  and attempted to stop it  just south of the Kulani Road intersection in Mt. View.  According to the police press release, “The vehicle sped toward the officers in a threatening manner. In response, an officer fired one shot toward the vehicle which continued southbound on Route 11 toward the Hawai?i Volcanoes National Park.”

The stolen vehicle is described as a black 1989 Nissan hard body single-cab pickup, License Plate No. ZBC-027.with over-sized tires, a mesh type tailgate and a red, yellow, and green sticker on the driver’s side rear window.

Anyone with any information on the location of the stolen pickup or the identity of the suspects are asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311, or  call CrimeStoppers at 961-8300. CrimeStoppers callers can remain anonymous, but  may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

“As is standard practice in any officer-involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigation Section will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation,” according to HPD.

–Alan McNarie

Two Arrested in Illegal Firearms Sale


From Hawaii Police Department:


Two Big Island men have been charged with felonies  last week after an illegal weapon was offered for sale online.

Undercover police officers responded to an ad offering a firearm for sale and were informed by the seller that the weapon was a sawed-off shotgun. The undercover officers arranged for a meeting with the seller.

On Thursday, the undercover officers met with two men in the Lakeland subdivision in Kamuela, arrested them and recovered the illegal firearm.

Arrested on suspicion of weapons offenses were 23-year-old Ryne Wamil of Kawaihae and 21-year-old Austin Silva of Kamuela. They were taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

Later Thursday, detectives charged Wamil with possession of a modified weapon, unloaded firearm and registration mandatory of a firearm. His bail was set at $4,500 [corrected amount].

Silva was charged with promoting a dangerous drug and possessing drug paraphernalia after police found a glass smoking pipe on his person. His bail was set at $4,000. He was not charged on the weapons offenses pending further investigation.



Island News: Nigerians Want to Cash Your Rent Check.

Trust those Nigerian scammers to exploit a crisis two oceans away.

Hawai`i Island police are warning the public about a rental house scam. Those responding to Craigslist ad are told that the “landlord” is out of the country, and that the prospective renter must send a money order deposit to a Nigerian address before receiving the keys.

“Police advise the public not to make arrangements to rent property without confirming that the person offering the property for rent is the owner or authorized rental agent,” says the department press release.
–Alan McNarie

Local Farmer Mauled by Dogs

Ward's left hand after the attack

Ward’s left hand after the attack

by Alan D. McNarie

Deborah Ward was working on her organic farm near Kurtistown on Monday, July 28, when “I heard some people yelling …I usually know my neighbors, so I went down to say hello.” But when she approached the old railroad right-of-way at the back of  her farm, she encountered a blond woman she didn’t know and two dogs, one white and one red, both of which appeared to be pit-bull mixes. The next few moments would cost her two deep gashes in her leg, a mangled hand and an extended hospital stay.
“I said hello, and next thing I know they [the dogs] were both running at me at about 20 miles per hour. He [the red dog] knocked me down bit my leg, and then bit my hand and started chewing on it…. At the time I thought I was going to die. He was within inches of my neck, and I was on the ground bleeding from both legs and being mauled. When she pulled the dog off, I ran as fast as I could, screaming at the top of my lungs and gushing blood, and got on my tractor and drove back to my house with two gaping wounds in my legs and my hand shredded and all the bones broken in multiple places.”  After she reached her house, she said, “I screamed for a full ten minutes, and my neighbor came over and asked me if he could help me get to the hospital.” The neighbor drove her to meet the ambulance in Kea’au.
Ward’s son, Ben, later confirmed that the dogs belonged to some voluntary ag workers at a neighboring farm.

Ward is the primary caregiver for her partner, retired biologist Fred Stone, who is paraplegic as the result of a recent fall from a ladder. Her son is currently taking care of Stone, and plans are being made for him to stay with relatives on the mainland while Ward recuperates.

The owners of the dogs declined to comment, but we learned from two different sources that the owners had been attempting to contact the Hawaii Police Department to make a statement about the incident, but that so far the police had not contacted them.

The Chronicle has been attempting to contact the Hawaii Police Department today to find out what, if anything has been done about the dogs and why HPD, nearly six days after the attack, still apparently had interviewed neither the victim nor the dog’s owners.  We still haven’t heard back from the police.  But a few minutes after e-mailing HPD spokesperson Chris Loos about the situation, we were talking to Ms. Ward on the phone. She suddenly said, “I’ll have to call you back.  There’s a policeman outside my door.”

We’ll keep you updated.

Kona News — Theodore Casuga Apprehended At Kona Airport

Theodore Casuga

(Media release) — A 36-year-old Kona man who was wanted by police has been arrested for the original offenses and new drug charges.

Theodore Kahuilani Casuga of Kailua-Kona was wanted on a bench warrant for contempt of court. Police had also issued an all-points bulletin for his arrest in connection with several identity theft, theft and forgery investigations.

On Friday, Nov. 26, 2010, officers from the Area II Vice Section attempted to arrest him by the old Kona airport. A struggle ensued and Casuga was taken into custody. During the arrest, police recovered resealable plastic bags containing 0.4 grams of crystal methamphetamine. Read more

Puna News — Kainoa Arakaki Facing Attempted Murder And Other Charges

Kainoa Arakaki

Media release — Big Island police have charged a 30-year-old Kurtistown man with attempted murder and other offenses.

At 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010, detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section charged Kainoa Arakaki with attempted murder, second-degree assault, three counts of third-degree assault, three counts of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and two counts of first-degree criminal property damage. His bail was set at $71,000. He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance.

Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, officers from the Puna District responded to a report of a disturbance on Huina Road in Kurtistown. Responding officers observed a late-model Toyota truck with extensive damage disabled on the roadway with its driver, a 60-year-old Kea’au man pinned inside.

Police saw another late-model Toyota truck leaving the scene. They stopped the driver, Arakaki, a short distance away and took him into custody.

Fire Department rescue personnel extricated the pinned victim from the truck and took him to Hilo Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition.

Arakaki was also taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment of injuries sustained prior to the crash. He was then released into police custody.

(Submitted by the Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

South Kona — Help Identify Man Who Stole Pickup

(Media release) — Big Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man who stole a pickup in South Kona on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010.

Police received an 8:25 a.m. report that the pickup had just been taken from a driveway on Mamalahoa Highway. Police recovered the pickup a half hour later in Hōnaunau.
The truck was a white 2000 Toyota Tacoma pickup with aluminum pipe racks. When police found it, the racks had been removed and placed in the back.  The suspect was described as a man with dark skin wearing a long-sleeved camouflage jacket or shirt, a dark beanie and sunglasses.  Police ask that anyone who knows his identity or who saw someone removing pipe racks from a pickup fitting that description call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

***Commentary*** Regarding My $142 Speeding Ticket

Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Ah, life’s ironies. Today I photographed an illegally dumped refrigerator. Tonight I was pulled aside right near it.
Remember that police officer I told you has been camping out at the top of Ainaloa lately? I met him tonight. His name is Officer Kim. He gave me a $142 speeding ticket for going 42 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone. I vowed I would be challenging my ticket, and would be seeing him again in court. I don’t deny I was going 42 miles per hour — I’ve said here that I believe that area is a speed trap being 25 miles per hour on a stretch of houses with no homes and otherwise left for drug-dealing and illegal dumping. It’s that section of road that I prefer to speed past.
Anyway, tonight, I came up over the hill to this stretch of highway and the officer’s unmarked car was right there, flashing it’s blue lights indicating I needed to pull over BEFORE I even passed the car!
I pulled over, with that damn discarded refrigerator right there in front of my vehicle.
The officer approached my vehicle, and I handed him my driver’s license, registration and insurance card.
“Why did you put on your blue lights before I even passed your vehicle?” I asked him, totally annoyed.
“To give you time to slow down and pull over,” he said, very politely.
“How did you know how fast I was going before I even passed you?” I said, accusatorially.
“My radar,” he said, matter-of-factly.
“I want to see the radar,” I said.
I went off on a diatribe about how I feel like it is entrapment for him to be sitting there like that, pulling me over after I have been working all day long, in an area that is a wasteland for drug dealers, illegal dumpers and drag racers. Read more

***Commentary*** Good News On The Arrests Of Alleged Taggers

Image courtesy of Epershandrea

Kudos to Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter John Burnett for the newspaper coverage and to the Hawaii Police Department for the arrest of three men for grafffiti, or “tagging.”

If the P.D. will put out a press release, I’ll gladly post the mug shots of 18-year-old Luke Anthony Keaulana and 19-year-old Kalani A.K. Puu, both of Hilo, and 21-year-old George Akana Labrador, of no permanent address. I really don’t mind artistic graffiti, the kind that is akin to a mural, but I honestly cannot stand it the way people write with spray paint “East Side” or “Hilo” or “Puna Boys” or their initials on concrete walls, bridges, benches, what-have-you.  To me, it’s neanderthalistic. It’s about time we have some faces behind all the public defacing.

Yes, I realize that people are innocent until proven guilty and it is a possibility that the police have the wrong guys.  Should these guys be adjudicated and be found guilty, I suggest that the judge sentence them to a few years of community clean-ups.  Let them all be chained together as they power-wash walls, sidewalks, bridges, benches, playground equipment  — anything that has been publicly defaced by them or their cohorts.

Volcano News — Police: Commercial Marijuana Growing Operation Uncovered From Traffic Stop

Keahimaukaopuna Neizman

(Media release) — Big Island police have charged a Volcano man with numerous drug offenses on Friday, Nov.5, 2010.
The charges stem from a traffic stop initiated by South Hilo patrol officers early Thursday morning. Further investigations conducted by Area I Vice Section officers led to the recovery of 660.8 grams of dried processed marijuana and $200 in US currency from within the vehicle. Police also recovered drug paraphernalia in the form of baggies, a scale and scissors.

On Thursday evening, Area I Vice officers and the State of Hawaii Narcotics Enforcement Division executed a search warrant on the defendant’s 28-acre Volcano property on Amau Road where they discovered two separate indoor growing operations and an outdoor greenhouse which led to the recovery of a total of 151 marijuana plants. Read more

*** Commentary *** Regarding Halloween 2010 In Pahoa

Photos by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

As we did last year, my friends and I took our children trick-or-treating through Pahoa Town.  I would like to applaud the businesses that provided candy to our children — Of course, our business, Jeff Hunt Surfboards, which had made available more treat bags than we could give out; Pahoa Home Video; Black Rock Cafe; L & L Hawaiian Barbecue; Pahoa Cash And Carry; Island Naturals; Sukothai Restaurant; Paolo’s Italian Restaurant; Ning’s Thai Cuisine; Kaleo’s; Paul’s Repair; and Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant.  I also would like to thank Mrs. Kajiyama, who had candy avaiable, and the police working in the Pahoa substation on Sunday night.  Regarding the police, as you know, I gave them grief last year for not passing out any candy.  This year, as we were making our way from L & L Hawaiian Barbecue to Pahoa Cash and Carry, we saw a couple of police officers walk out of the Pahoa substation.  I teased, “Hey, look! There’s a couple of guys dressed like police officers.  Then my friend Felicia gave them some grief, “So, what, you guys going to stiff us two years in a row?”  “No, we’re on our way to buy candy right now,” one of the police officers responded, showing us the money in his hand.  “We’ll be back,” we told them.  Sure enough, when we came back around to the substation door, a police officer opened the door and provided our children with lollipops. I’m not sure what was going on, but later that night, some other children we know tried to trick-or-treat at the substation and no one answered the door. But our group of trick-or-treaters did receive candy from the police and felt extremely grateful.

In fact, this year, the only business I was extremely dis-satisfied with was 7-Eleven.  They didn’t offer any candy, despite the fact that they are a business that sells candy! Lame.  I was personally disappointed in 7-Eleven, having recently watched Undercover Boss, which featured the 7-Eleven CEO.  I was left with a favorable impression of the company, until Sunday, when our children were turned away.

Those who live in Puna know that our rural subdivisions make trick or treating very difficult.  A lot of Puna children are shuttled to Hilo to trick-or-treat in neighborhoods other than their own.  Or, some of their schools and community associations sponsor events.  But those of us merchants who are active in Mainstreet Pahoa Association really are trying to promote Pahoa as a “spooky little town that is safe to trick or treat,” and I sincerely appreciate the businesses that are help us create a tradition here.  It would be so great to have the participation of all the businesses and residences in Pahoa town participating.

Mahalo, L & L Hawaiian Barbecue

Read more

Kona News — Man Charged In Connection With Stabbing

Mark Knittle

(Media release) — Big Island police have charged the man arrested Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010 in connection with a stabbing in South Kona.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010, detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section charged 51-year-old Mark Knittle of Ho’okena with second-degree assault. He was released after posting $2,000 bail. Read more

Hawaii News — Watch ‘Hawai’i Island’s Most Wanted’ Friday

Michael Coyaso

Kawika Kahee

Jonathan Phillips

(Media release) — The most recent edition of the Crime Stoppers television program “Hawai’i Island’s Most Wanted” highlights a Hilo man wanted for domestic violence, a 23-year-old man wanted for forgery, ID theft and providing false identification to a police officer, and a Puna man wanted on several outstanding bench warrants.

The new episode begins airing Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. In it, police ask for the public’s help in locating 31-year-old Michael M. Coyaso of Hilo, who is wanted in connection with a domestic violence investigation. He is described as 6-feet tall, about 180 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He may have a mustache and a beard.

The television program also asks for help in locating a 23-year-old man wanted for forgery, ID theft and providing false identification to a police officer. Jonathan Ross Phillips is also known as Jonny R. Phillips or James Patel. He is wanted for forgery, ID theft and providing false identification to a police officer. He is described as 5-foot-8, 120 pounds with blond hair and brown eyes. His last known address was in Hilo.

In this latest edition of “Hawai’i Island’s Most Wanted,” the host, Officer Patrick Menino, also asks for help in locating 27-year-old Kawika Benjamin Kahee of Kea’au, who is wanted on several outstanding bench warrants. Kahee is also wanted in connection with a domestic violence investigation. He is described as 5-foot-11, about 235 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

Police ask that anyone with information about any of these cases call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300 in Hilo or (808) 329-8181 in Kona. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential. Crime Stoppers does not tape record phone calls or subscribe to caller ID.

“Hawai’i Island’s Most Wanted” is a project of Crime Stoppers Hilo, Inc., which is a partnership of the business community, the media and the police. It was inspired by the national TV show, “America’s Most Wanted.” The program airs on Na Leo O Hawaii Community Television Channel 54 on Sundays at 5 p.m. and Fridays at 5:30 p.m. It also airs intermittently on Channel 53.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

HILO BULLETIN — Help Solve Gas Station Robbery Case

(Media release) — Big Island police are renewing their request for the public’s help in identifying a suspect in a gas station robbery last month.

A male armed with a knife entered the 76 gas station at the corner of Ainako Avenue and Kaumana Drive in Hilo on September 25 around 7:45 p.m. and demanded money. He then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, possibly in a white pickup truck.

The victim did not sustain any injuries. Read more