Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth, who is running for Big Island mayor, said Tuesday his campaign’s Facebook and Instagram accounts have been spoofed.
“It was definitely scammers,” Roth said. “We’re actually filing police reports on that.”
“The concern was they were trying to get people’s information, and they were trying to get them to call numbers where there’s a scam, as well,” he said.
According to Roth, his campaign also notified Facebook and Instagram about the spoofed accounts bearing his campaign’s name and misspelling his first name “Micth.”
Asked when the spoofed pages appeared on the social media sites, Roth replied, “We started getting notified (Tuesday) morning.”
“They started reaching out to people, so we’ve gotten some additional security for our account, as well,” he added. “I started getting some very interesting messages when this came down from people who are generally not on our (social media pages). We’re not sure whether this started from on island or off island, but we want to make sure people’s information is protected.”
Roth said one thing that occurred is people were receiving messages in his name about the Workers Compensation Appeals Board.
“They were making it look like I was trying to direct them on how to get money,” Roth said.
He said at least one of the messages had a telephone number in the 503 area code, which is an Oregon code that includes Portland, Astoria, and the state capital, Salem. However, telephone numbers and area codes can be spoofed, as well, and often aren’t what they appear to be.
“I looked into it, and if was definitely a scam,” Roth said.
Asked if any of the messages sought campaign contributions paid to parties other than his campaign, Roth answered, “I’m not sure of that, yet.”
“I think most people know that, at this point, we’re trying to give people help, so (the scammers) kind of try to glom onto that …,” he said. “They’re acting as though they are me trying to get help for people. We’re looking to see if they were trying to get campaign contributions, as well.”
Roth said his campaign posts news articles on social media with information about how to get help from government agencies during the COVID-19 crisis.
“But I haven’t reached out to people saying, ‘Go here; call this number and get money,’” he said.
Roth, who has by far the largest campaign war chest — having raised $107,217 by April 25 — is one of 19 people who have pulled papers for a crowded mayoral race.
The incumbent, Harry Kim, announced his candidacy for re-election eight days ago.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.