DOH Places 7 Hospital Employees on Off-duty Status Without Pay

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is placing seven Hawaii State Hospital employees on off-duty status without pay pending the investigation of the escape of a patient on Nov. 12. The hospital employees are being notified and will be relieved of their duties for 30 days as the internal investigation continues. As the investigation progresses, more employees may be identified and placed on off-duty status.

The department is committed to a thorough investigation, evaluation and correction of our hospital protocols and procedures to prevent this type of incident from reoccurring. In addition to placing employees on off-duty status, all unescorted on-campus and off-campus privileges have been stopped, visits to Kaneohe Clubhouse have been suspended, all staff have been retrained on the accountability process, security staff have been reassigned, all levels of patient privilege and visitation policies are being reviewed, additional unannounced patient area searches are being conducted, and procurement of additional security fencing is being expedited.

President Trump to Land in Hawaii Tomorrow Morning

President Trump is scheduled to land in Honolulu tomorrow morning, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at the Hickam Airforce Base.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has implemented Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) for the island of O‘ahu for Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.


The President is expected to stay on the military base and no roads or traffic will be stopped during his time on O’ahu.

The following operations are not authorized within this TFR: flight training, practice instrument approaches, aerobatic flight, glider operations, parachute operations, ultralight, hang gliding, balloon operations, agriculture/crop dusting, animal population control flight operations, banner towing operations, sightseeing operations, maintenance test flights, model aircraft operations, model rocketry, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and utility and pipeline survey operations.

Security Zone Set Up for President Trump’s Visit

Coast Guard personnel, federal, state and local law enforcement partners will enforce a security zone in waters off Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Oahu, Friday and Saturday.

The security zone is necessary to ensure the safety of a distinguished visitor.
The security zone will be in effect from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. Friday Nov. 3, 2017 and from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Saturday Nov. 4, unless canceled earlier by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Honolulu, Capt. Michael Long.

The Coast Guard is coordinating with the Honolulu Police Department and other federal, state, and county law enforcement agencies to conduct patrols of the area under the direction of the U.S. Secret Service.

The Coast Guard has established a security zone on waters off of Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. To the north of the airport, the security zone includes all waters surrounding Honolulu International Airport within Keehi Lagoon. To the south of the airport, the security zone includes the waters from 21 degrees 18 minutes north latitude and 157 degrees 55.58 minutes west longitude east to Kalihi Channel Buoy number 5 and all waters south to about two mile offshore. This includes anchorages B, C and D.

Under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 33 CFR 165.33, the law prohibits any unauthorized person or vessel from entering or remaining in this security zone.  Any person entering the zone without the permission of the Coast Guard captain of the port is subject to a penalty of not more than $90,063 for each violation or a criminal penalty resulting in imprisonment of not more than 25 years and a fine of not more than $250,000. Offending vessels may also be seized and held liable for any monetary assessments.

Trump to Stay in Waikiki – Temporary Flight Restrictions Ordered for Hawaii Visit

The following airspace on Oahu has been restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Hawaii while President Donald Trump is on Oahu.The coordinates of this restriction also reflect that he may be staying in Waikiki during his visit from Nov. 3 to 4, 2017.

33 State Attorneys General Urge Congress to Evaluate ‘Bump Stocks’

Expressing extreme concern about the role “bump stocks” played in the recent Las Vegas tragedy, Attorney General Doug Chin yesterday joined a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders urging them to close a loophole in current federal gun laws.

Click to read letter

The bipartisan letter, co-sponsored by Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, includes support from a broad group of attorneys general from U.S. states and territories. The letter notes that bump stock devices – a plastic or metal piece attached to a firearm’s stock designed to increase the ability to fire like a fully automatic weapon – may be used to evade the machinegun laws that are currently in place.

It has been widely reported that the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, modified otherwise lawful semi-automatic rifles with “bump stocks” to kill 58 innocent people and injure hundreds more. The attorneys general urge Congress to evaluate whether bump stocks should be regulated like machineguns in order to protect residents from the dangers posed by unrestricted fully automatic weapons.

Since 1986, when Congress enacted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968, fully automatic weapons and “machineguns” have been restricted, making it unlawful for civilians to possess a machinegun unless the firearm was acquired prior to the Act’s effective date.

According to the letter, bump stocks can “mimic fully automatic machinegun fire and therefore lead to disastrous consequences in the wrong hands.” The attorneys general also state that Congress “should carefully consider whether bump stocks have created a loophole in the machinegun laws” when considering any news laws.

Joining the letter are the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the letter is attached.

VIDEO: Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

Tulsi Gabbard is calling for immediate action to put a stop to a dangerous move executed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump Administration. Unless the decision is overturned, thousands of jobs will be lost and an entire Alaskan watershed will be destroyed—killing the aquatic life within it and endangering the people who, for thousands of years, have depended on the fish and miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats it supports.

Tulsi Gabbard, a lifelong environmentalist with a proven record of protecting our environment, explains the critical situation facing Bristol Bay, Alaska and calls on Congress to take action to protect it.

Nearly half of the world’s Sockeye Salmon comes from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Its watershed employs over 14,000 full-and part-time workers, generates $1.5 billion dollars in economic activity, and is home to 25 federally recognized tribal governments—many of whom have maintained a salmon-based culture and subsistence-based way of life for more than 4,000 years.

Yet the world’s most valuable salmon fishery is facing a direct threat by the very government agency given the job to protect it—the Environmental Protection Agency. Its newest administrator and Trump nominee, Scott Pruitt, recently held closed-door meetings with Canadian-owned mining company Pebble Limited Partnership about developing a copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay larger than Manhattan and nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon. Just over an hour after the meeting, Pruitt rescinded federal salmon protections in the area, opening the door for development and mining.

Despite numerous studies and historical data over the years that cite the ecological and economic importance of protecting Bristol Bay from mining project development, Pruitt has made it clear that he has no qualms with brokering deals at the expense of the American people and the planet.
To quote his own agency’s 2014 assessment, such a mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources,” and the loss of miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats. In addition, the EPA calculated a 95% chance of spill, per pipeline, in 25 years, threatening “acute exposure to toxic water and chronic exposure to toxic sediment” to fish and invertebrates.

Along with the virtual destruction of these species and wetlands, this would poison the watershed and needlessly endanger the communities who have relied upon the Sockeye Salmon for sustenance for thousands of years. The cost of destroying thousands of jobs and decimating the environment and resources these communities rely on is too great to measure.

The economics of Bristol Bay are everything President Trump promised to protect: American workers supplying American families and businesses through American jobs.

Yet the president and his administration have demonstrated time and again that they are eager to put their friends and business partners’ interests and profit before the health and wellbeing of the American people.

Hawaiʻi and Alaska have long shared a special and unique relationship, working together across party lines for the wellbeing of our people. For decades, we’ve worked together to empower our native communities, promote our local economies, secure resources for our rural populations, and much more. Now, we must stand together again and urge our colleagues in Congress to join the fight to protect Bristol Bay and its irreplaceable resources before it is too late.

USS Preble, USS Halsey to Depart for Deployment

The guided-missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) will depart Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii for a regularly-scheduled deployment, Oct. 16.

In this file photo, USS Halsey (DDG 97) and USS Preble (DDG 88), front and rear, and USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) steam in formation during a training exercise in August. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Robyn B. Melvin)

Preble, with embarked helicopter detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 37, and Halsey will join the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), and guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) for a routine deployment to conduct maritime security, forward presence, and theater security operations in the 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.

“The U.S. Navy carrier strike group is the most versatile, capable force at sea,” said Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, commander of CSG 9. “After nearly a year of training and integration exercises, the entire team is ready as a warfighting force and ready to carry out the nation’s tasking.”

Preble last deployed from March to October of 2015. This is Halsey’s first deployment with TRCSG.

“The crew has done a lot of hard work to prepare ourselves for deployment with the strike group,” said Cmdr. David Reyes, Halsey’s commanding officer. “Team Halsey is confident and focused on accomplishing the mission that we have successfully trained for. We are ready to answer all bells.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) deployment is an example of the U.S. Navy’s routine presence in waters around the globe, displaying commitment to stability, regional cooperation and economic prosperity for all nations. Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment, Oct. 6, to the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operations in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is part of U.S. 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

Television Special Documents Lehua Island Restoration Project

The recent project aimed at eradicating invasive rats from the State of Hawai‘i’s Seabird Sanctuary on Lehua Island is the subject of a half-hour long TV documentary that chronicles the operation from beginning to end.

Lehua Island

Scheduled for broadcast on KFVE-TV (K5) on Saturday, Oct. 21st and Sunday, Oct. 22nd at 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively, the program was produced by DLNR with support from the Lehua Island Restoration Steering Committee; the group of government agencies, non-profit and community organizations, and other supporters involved in the eradication of rats.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We see this as an opportunity to show people exactly what happened during the trio of aerial applications of rodenticide in August and September, as well as to highlight the stunning beauty of Lehua Island, the incredible diversity of bird life possible on a rat-free island, and the tremendous amount of planning and thought that led up to the eradication project. Few people actually get to go to Lehua and I think viewers will be astounded that this little island off Kaua‘i’s west side is so rich in life – with the successful demise of rats there, soon to be a much richer place in all respects.”

Island Conservation (IC) is the world renowned organization contracted by the State to conduct the restoration project. Dr. Patty Baiao, Hawai‘i Program Manager for IC, explained, “This show is incredibly visual and is in alignment with our oft-stated goal of being completely transparent about the restoration project.  We understand and appreciate community concerns about dropping rodenticide on an island, but hope that when people see and hear from the dozens of really dedicated individuals closest to this project, they will come to the realization that this was done with extraordinary care, thought, pre-planning and execution.”

While no rats have been spotted by monitoring teams since after the first aerial application in August, Lehua Island will not be declared rat-free until a year after the last application. Rats are documented to be voracious predators of seabird eggs, chicks, and the seeds of native plants that seabirds rely on.

The television program includes interviews with project leaders and participants, with community members, cultural practitioners, and outside experts who all reinforce the science and cultural reasons for the removal of rats from Lehua.

from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Civil Defense Message – High Surf and High Wind Information Message

This is a Civil Defense message. This is a High Surf and High Wind information message for Sunday October 15 at 10:30 AM.The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind advisory for North, South, and East Hawaii Island, including the interior regions.

In addition, the National Weather Service has issued a High Surf advisory for all shores of Hawaii Island.

Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) reports their work crews are responding to spot power outages in isolated areas. As in all severe weather conditions, expect possible interruptions in power, cable and telephone services.

Should power outages occur, be on the alert for malfunctioning traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

Ocean front residents and beachgoers are advised to be on the alert for possible high and dangerous surf. You are asked to exercise caution due to the unpredictability of high surf.

As a precaution, boat owners and oceanfront residents should take action to secure their property.

This email will be updated and you will be informed of any conditions that may affect your safety.

Responders Continue Efforts to Remove Fishing Vessel Grounded Off Honolulu – Pacific Paradise Catches Fire

Responders will continue efforts to remove the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise aground off Honolulu Sunday.

At first light the salvage team will reassess the vessel and attempt another towing evolution if weather allows this to be done safely.

The vessel remained grounded Saturday despite several attempts to tow it from the reef located off Waikiki’s Kaimana Beach during the most favorable tide.

During work to dewater the vessel gasoline used to fuel a dewatering pump splashed on hot surfaces causing it to ignite and start a fire aboard. The seven members of the salvage team abandoned ship, were picked up by Ocean Safety crews, and returned to the salvage vessel with no injuries.

Surf lessons continued as the Pacific Paradise fishing boat continued to burn off-shore of Kaimana Beach. Photo via Kaimana Pine

Hawaii Fire Department crew dropped water on the vessel from a helicopter with a bambi bucket attached knocking down the blaze to a smolder. The fire rendered the vessel unsafe to board. Salvage crews continued efforts to tow the vessel making little progress and were forced to cease towing operations as the tide went out.

Front row seats to Honolulu Fire Department’s Air 1 effort at extinguishing the flames. Photo via Kaimana Pine

A release of roughly 200 gallons of diesel fuel was detected by responders. Until crews can access the vessel and survey the damage it is unknown exactly where this release came from. After lightening efforts during the week two-thirds of the fuel was removed along with the marine batteries leaving a maximum of 1,500 gallons aboard prior to the release of fuel.

NOAA crews are standing by to assist marine mammals as necessary, none have been affected thus far. The Department of Health has also reached out to residents and beach goers in the area to caution them against swimming in the vicinity of the vessel and discuss water quality monitoring.

A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations. The Coast Guard Cutter Kittieake (WPB 87316) will remain on scene to monitor the vessel and enforce the safety zone.

Partners in the effort include personnel in several divisions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party, commercial salvors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel are forecast as 28 mph winds with 3 to 5 foot waves and a long 3-foot south southwest swell. Rain showers are possible. These conditions are expected to remain through midweek. The vessel is somewhat sheltered from the wind by Diamond Head as it’s on the south shore of Oahu.

The Pacific Paradise is a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. Those crewmen were released to Customs and Border Protection. The cause of the grounding remains under investigation.

Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge and Hawaii Beekeeper Survey

8th Annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge 2017A grand total of 97 entries have been received from the Big Island, O’ahu, Kaua’i, Maui and Moloka’i and will undergo formal judging on October 19th, 2017.

In addition to the official judging, the Big Island Beekeeper’s Association will be holding a People’s Choice tasting and judging on Friday, November 3rd, 2017 at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, second floor, 76 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo between 6:30pm and 8:00pm. This is a free public event, all are welcome!

Hawaii Beekeeper Survey  – The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is currently polling the state’s beekeeping community to learn of the industry’s interests and concerns. Beekeepers of any size operations are encouraged to take the survey which only takes a few minutes to complete and will help the program learn more about the needs of Hawaii’s beekeeping community.  To access the survey, click here: Apiary Program Survey 2017

 

Swimmer Rescued From Hilo Bay

Location:  Hilo Bay

Situation Found at Scene: Search commenced for swimmer in Hilo bay. Located via aircraft and extricated using Billy Pugh

Remarks:  At 2:49 this afternoon, Hawaii Fire Department units were dispatched to a possible swimmer in distress. Per the caller, a female swimmer in her late 20s was seen leaving the Wailoa river mouth heading out toward a green channel marker which is located about 1 mile off shore. When the caller lost sight of her, the caller became concerned and called 911. After a 35 min. search, Chopper 1 located the swimmer and deployed a rescue swimmer. The patient was taken to shore via Billy Pugh net. The exhausted swimmer refused medical attention.

Traffic Alert – Avoid Bayfront Highway Due to High Waves Washing Debris on Road

AVOID the Bayfront Highway between Pauahi Street and Waianuenue Avenue due to high waves washing debris on highway.

An assessment will be made in the morning by Civil Defense on the status of the closure.

Use Kamehameha Avenue as an alternate route.

Civil Defense Weather and Surf Information Update

This is a Civil Defense message. This is a weather and surf information update for Friday October 13 at 3 PM.

The National Weather Service reports unstable weather conditions to continue through today and into tonight for Hawaii Island.

KITV Radar image at 3:30 Hawaii Time.

Police report all roads are open at this time, but advise that driving conditions are poor because of occasional heavy downpours.

If lightning threatens your area, the safest place to be is indoors.

Should power outages occur, be on the alert for non-operable traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

In addition, the National Weather Service expects high surf to approach advisory levels along the shores of North Kohala, Hamakua, North and South Hilo and Puna from tonight through the weekend.

Oceanfront residents and beachgoers along the affected shores are advised to be on the alert for possible high and dangerous surf as well as exercise caution due to the unpredictability of huge swells.

As a precaution, boat owners and oceanfront residents should take action to secure their property.

Flood Advisory Issued for Parts of the Big Island

This is a flood advisory information update for Friday October 13 at 9 AM.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for Hawaii Island, including the areas of Waikoloa, Puako, Kawaihae, Kohala, Waimea, and Waipi’o Valley.

Police report all roads are open at this time, but advise that driving conditions are poor because of occasionally heavy downpours.

Remember, if lightning does threaten your area, the safest place to be is indoors.

Should power outages occur, be on the alert for non-operable traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

Again, the National Weather Service reports unstable weather conditions for all of Hawaii Island to continue through today and into tonight.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Severe Weather Information Alert

This is a Civil Defense message. This is a severe weather information message for Thursday October 12 at 8 PM.

The National Weather Service reports heavy rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning to continue through the night for East Hawaii Island.

Doppler image at 8:26 PM.

Police report all roads are open at this time, but advise that driving conditions are poor because of occasionally heavy downpours. This is a good night to stay off the highways and be safe.

Remember, if lightning does threaten your area, the safest place to be is indoors.

Also be advised that due to the thunderstorm, your utilities of power and phones may be interrupted.

Should power outages occur, be on the alert for non-operable traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

Again, the national Weather Service reports heavy rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning to continue through the night.

Beware of Fake State Investigators

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO) is warning the public about at least one individual who posed as a RICO investigator.

The office received information that a letter was sent to a local business asserting a violation and that RICO would be conducting an investigation at that location.  The letter, however, was not sent by an investigator from the RICO office.

Notices from RICO are sent on official letterhead and include contact information for all RICO offices.  Legitimate RICO investigators carry official badges and credentials with their name and organization. Members of the public may request to view the credentials of a RICO investigator to confirm the investigator’s identity. To verify the authenticity of an investigator or a written notice from RICO, the public also may call the RICO office at (808) 587-4272.

The Regulated Industries Complaints Office has opened an investigation into the matter. The impersonation of a public servant is a crime in the State of Hawaii.

Big Island Mayor Requests Release of Money for Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim sent a letter to Governor David Ige on October 4th  requesting the release of money appropriated for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to fund the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit in 2018:

Dear Governor Ige,

This letter is a formal request for the release of $150,000 appropriated for the County of Hawai’i for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to use to fund the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit in the fiscal year 2018. This was authorized in the Hawaii State Budget, SB26, SD1, HD1, CD1, ACT 204 enacted on July 11, 2017.

The County of Hawaii is committed to the implementation of ACT 204 and looks forward to collaborating with other County and State criminal justice agencies in fulfilling the goal prosecuting and bringing justice to cases that involve career criminals. As provided for in the Career Criminal Prosecuting plan, we intend to fund eleven (11) positions described on the attached “Budget Detail” The Hawai’i County Council has approved the funding provided to the County in ACT 204 as an Intergovernmental Agreement between the State of Hawai’i and the County of Hawaii.

Please contact Lee Lord, Business Manager, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, County of Hawaii, at (808) 934-3315, if you require any additional information.

Sincerely,
Mayor Harry Kim

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Ban “Bump Stocks”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today supported bipartisan legislation as an original cosponsor to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” and similar devices. The legislation would also make violation of the law a felony and allow for increased penalties for offenders through a review of federal sentencing guidelines.

“In the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy, this bill is an important bipartisan measure that will ban devices that exploit loopholes in existing laws prohibiting automatic weapons. I urge my colleagues to take action and support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation. There is clearly more that Congress can and should do, like passing legislation that will require background checks to those seeking to purchase a gun, which the majority of Americans support. Bills like the one we are introducing today are an important first step to bringing people together around issues that best serve the safety and wellbeing of the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: “Bump stocks” are devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to allow rapid fire at a rate mirroring that of a fully automatic weapon — 400 to 800 rounds a minute. These devices are legal, unregulated, widely available, and can be purchased online for as little as $100. Their sole purpose is to exacerbate the rate of fire.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today is supported by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, including Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Peter King (NY-2), Jared Polis (CO-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Robin Kelly (IL-2), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Jacky Rosen (NV-3), Ed Royce (CA-39), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Erik Paulsen (MN-3), Ruben Kihuen (NV-4), Ryan Costello (PA-6), John Delaney (MD-6), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Gene Green (TX-29), and Charlie Dent (PA-15).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is also a cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R.3947).

Hawaiian Electric Companies Warn Customers to “Just Hang Up!” on Scammers

Just hang up! That’s what the Hawaiian Electric Companies recommend as they begin a month-long campaign to alert customers about a recent spike in aggressive phone scams targeting electric customers.

  • If you receive a call from someone saying they’re from Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric or Hawaii Electric Light and demanding immediate payment over the phone or via prepaid debit cards, it’s a scam.
  • If the caller says your account is delinquent and threatens to shut off your power immediately unless payment is made, it’s a scam.
  • If the caller asks to meet you to pick up a payment, it’s a scam.

Simply hang up if you receive such a call, and dial the customer service line that is printed on your electric bill or listed on your company’s website. Do not call the number displayed on your caller ID, even if it says “HECO,” “MECO” or “HELCO.”

Within recent weeks, the companies have received dozens of fraud reports, with some customers paying hundreds of dollars to phone scammers. The scammers have targeted mostly small to mid-size businesses, but residential customers also have been victimized. Scammers will often call during busy times at a business, for example, and threaten to shut off the electricity if they’re not paid immediately.

While it’s not unusual for scams to increase before the holidays, the companies have noticed a higher level of sophistication among the scams. Scammers will often call businesses during busy times or right before closing, for example, and threaten to shut off the electricity if they’re not paid immediately. They’re also persistent and aggressive, insisting that a bill is overdue even if the customer knows it’s been paid.

For more information, go to www.hawaiielectriclight.com/stopscams.