Big Island detectives have charged a 19-year-old Puna man in connection with an internet scam and are continuing to look for additional victims.
At 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Anthony Derick Berson of Keaau was charged with four counts of second-degree theft, one count of third-degree theft, and four counts of use of a computer in the commission of a separate crime.
After conferring with the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and Berson’s private attorney, Berson was released on his own recognizance.
The crimes surfaced after four victims on the mainland reported that they responded to a posting on Craigslist by someone claiming to be selling tickets to the sold-out Coachella Music Festival being held this weekend in Indio, California.
The supposed seller arranged for the victims to wire him money and said he would send them festival passes and wrist bands by Federal Express. The victims sent the money but never received the passes or armbands.
Berson used various aliases while posting the ads on Craigslist, including “Nathan Parker,” “Christopher Wilson,” “Terry Morton” and “Trevor Hart.” It is hoped that potential victims may recognize these aliases and file a complaint with law enforcement.
Big Island detectives collaborated on a joint operation with the Office of Consumer Protection in the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
As part of the joint sting operation, an investigator from the Office of Consumer Protection posed as a buyer who wanted three sets of passes and wrist bands. He and the seller agreed on a control number and password for the seller to use when claiming the money.
When Berson went to a Western Union office in Hilo on Tuesday using the agreed-upon control number and password to claim $900, police detectives arrested him on suspicion of attempted theft and use of a computer in the commission of a separate crime.
Berson is scheduled to appear in District Court on May 29 at 1:30 p.m.
Police ask that any other victims of this alleged fraud contact Detective Derek Morimoto by phone at 961-2380 or by email at email@example.com.
Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.