Fraud Scheme Imitates State Procurement Process

August 13, 2018, 11:12 AM HST · Updated August 13, 11:12 AM
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The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is warning businesses of a fraud scheme in which individuals impersonating state officials have recently attempted to make large purchases via e-mails accompanied by fraudulent purchase orders.

Authorities say a number of incidents were reported over the past month in which fraudulent attempts were made, mimicking aspects of the state procurement process.

In each instance, the perpetrator impersonated a state procurement official and used an e-mail address closely resembling, but different from, an actual state government e-mail address. A fraudulent state purchase order was also presented as authorization of payment. In one case, the representative handling the transaction called a phone number left in the scheme and became suspicious when someone with a distinct foreign accent answered.

Businesses are being advised to verify any state purchase requests received via e-mail. Because the impersonators have no relationship with the Hawaii state government, state officials say vendors that allow these fraudulent purchases may have no recourse for reimbursement from the state.

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Hawaiʻi businesses are advised not to fulfill orders from unknown individuals representing themselves as state procurement officers or administrators of a state government agency without first verifying the authenticity of the order with the actual state agency.

DCCA officials say impersonating a public servant and sending a fraudulent purchase order to induce payment are crimes that will be investigated and prosecuted.

Those who receive an order that they think may be fraudulent, are asked to contact the Office of the Attorney General at (808) 586-1284 and their local police department.

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