BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Two possible bomb threats recently reported on Oahu have had very different outcomes.
FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said today that there is no threat from the suspicious packages found at the University of Hawaii Law School on Monday.
Four envelopes were recovered on campus yesterday, and today they were opened by the FBI and its public safety partners, revealing “handwritten papers of a non-threatening nature and a bible.”
Thanking the Honolulu police and fire departments for their swift response, Simon added: “There was nothing in the envelopes that constituted a threat of any kind.”
That case was closed.
The second possible bomb threat also proved to be false, but it led federal officials to uncover an international scam that has already claimed Hawaii victims.
The crime started to unravel when on Friday, November 4, the FBI received a tip about two suspicious males claiming to be from the African nation of Liberia who rented a Honolulu storage locker with cash to stash their two large suitcases.
While the police and fire departments found no explosives or dangerous materials, they did find “hundreds of pounds of black paper cut into the size of U.S. currency bills, clear signs of a “Black Money Scam.”
A Black Money Scam is successful when criminals convince their victims that black construction paper is actually U.S. currency dyed black through a chemical process.
While it is possible to dye paper money black, the remedy to return the bills to their normal color is not expensive.
But the con-man claims that he needs another chemical to remove the black dye and asks the victim for money in return for half of the black paper.
Naturally, after the victims turn over the cash, the con-man disappears, and the victims learn they have been conned and own just a bag of paper.
After Frank Montoya, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Honolulu Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Simon issued a warning to the public about the scam on Monday, and the media covered the story, a Hawaii couple realized they too had been scammed.
Simon reports that the couple remaining unnamed at this time, told the FBI this morning that they had given two men claiming to be Liberians an estimated $50,000 in cash in exchange for a bag of black bills, however they are not the men in the photo.
Simon said he fears this means that the word is out among these alleged Liberian thieves that Hawaii residents are easy targets for fraud.