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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fraud complaints in Hawaii jump 25%

By Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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The number of Federal Trade Commission fraud complaints from Hawai'i consumers jumped by 25 percent last year, making the state the 10th highest nationally in terms of complaints as a percentage of residents.

The FTC released a report yesterday showing it received 2,520 complaints from Hawai'i last year, an increase of 500 from a year earlier.

Hawai'i followed national trends as more people across the country reported fraud cases to the FTC. The number of total U.S. complaints grew by 30 percent as people reported problems ranging from shop-at-home and catalog sales transactions to credit repair schemes.

In Hawai'i, there were 196.4 complaints per 100,000 residents, up from 157.1 a year earlier.

But because fraud didn't grow as fast here as some other states, Hawai'i actually fell in the nationwide rankings of complaints as a percentage of the population. In 2006, Hawai'i occupied the seventh spot.

Colorado residents reported the highest number of complaints, with 233.8 fraud complaints per 100,000 residents. Mississippi was the lowest with 90.6.

The five top complaints here were catalog and shop-at-home sales, prizes/sweepstakes and lotteries, Internet services, Internet auctions and foreign money offers. People reported losing $3.26 million to the schemes, with the average loss being $1,450.

The FTC reported the number of identity theft complaints from Hawai'i fell during the year to 589 from 615 previously. Hawai'i continued to rank 39th in the nation in terms of prevalence of ID theft complaints per 100,000 people.

Overall there were 813,899 fraud and identity theft complaints filed nationally with the FTC last year with a cost of the fraud complaints totaling more than $1.2 billion.

Hawai'i's combined fraud and identity theft complaints totaled 3,109. That was up from 2,635 a year previous.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.