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AARP AARP States Hawaii Scams & Fraud

Finding Ways to Beat Back Fraud


Paul Greenwood spent more than two decades staring down — and prosecuting — Southern California criminals for abusing and defrauding older adults. Now he is hoping to give Hawai‘i residents the insights necessary to reduce their own risks of experiencing elder abuse and fraud.

He will have two-hour sessions — sponsored by AARP — on five days (April 22-26). For details, see

Greenwood’s free presentations for AARP are informed by his experience as a San Diego County deputy district attorney. “I’m not just telling you what I hear about,” he says. “I’ve looked these crooks in the eye, so I kind of know a little bit about how they work.”

By the time he retired as a prosecutor in 2018, he had made San Diego’s elder abuse unit one of the most aggressive in the nation. Now Greenwood coaches people on ways to avoid and deal with such crimes. He covers financial swindles such as telephone scams, shady home-improvement contractors and mailbox theft. Sometimes the fraud is within the family — a relative taking advantage of trusting older adults.

“I want these adults to walk out of that room feeling empowered, energized, excited, wanting to share the information they heard with their neighbors,” Greenwood says.

His visit comes in the wake of phony charities and fraud schemes that followed the devastating August 2023 wildfires on Maui. In 2023, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 13,000 reports on fraud, identity theft and other issues from Hawai‘i consumers, with total fraud losses pegged at $43.8 million.

Greenwood says some older Hawai‘i residents lack nearby support to help them evaluate shady overtures. That makes it even more important for people to call for advice from trusted friends, family, known bank representatives or others, he says.

—Rita Beamish

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