Customers of energy providers in Hawaii are the latest victims of a scam that has been designed to extort Bitcoin from victims. It’s a typical example of how cryptocurrencies can be used to illicit money out of unsuspecting victims, by using a cloak of anonymity to make the scammer seem legitimate. Reports suggest that scammers are directly contacting customers of Hawaii Electric Light, Maui Electric and Hawaiian Electric, in order to try and persuade them to send Bitcoin to an address to cover outstanding energy bills, if they don’t pay, the scammers then threaten to cut the customers energy supply.
It’s pretty easy to see how customers could fall for this trap, especially those who might be less tech savvy than others. By appearing to be a legitimate company, scammers are finding it incredibly easy to get hold of their victims money, just by asking them and issuing a simple threat if they don’t comply.
According to Coininsider, Shannon Tangonan the Director of Communications at HECO, another Hawaiian electricity provider has said:
“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.”
Jim Alberts, the Senior Vice President for Customer Service at Hawaiian Electric Companies has continued this sentiment, offering further advice:
“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.”
See more for yourself, here.
Reports are also pointing out that in some instances, customers have been scammed with fake letters and have even been sent to Bitcoin ATMs within Hawaii in order to send the Bitcoin to the scammers, though I do think someone is missing something here.
How have the scammers managed to get hold of the customers details?
Either the scammers are guessing whose power is provided by which company, or, more likely, the scammers have gained access to the customer records of the aforementioned energy supply firms. In this instance, surely somebody needs to be held accountable?
It’s speculation, but I just can’t see how people could fall for this scam, unless the communications they receive came from their own energy suppliers, therefore we must ask how the scammers managed to get hold of this information in the first place?