HONOLULU - How safe are you from thieves on the Internet? The FBI says cyber crimes are on the rise. A series of seminars from AARP Hawaii will teach people how to protect themselves because, it says, seniors are at a higher risk for being targeted.

"Cyber crime is a real threat right now," warns Gerry Silva, volunteer state president for AARP Hawaii. It's a frightening warning for all ages, but AARP Hawaii says, especially for seniors. 

"When you get to your 60s and 70s- people in this age group are probably losing $650 million a year. The older you get, the more of a target you become," he says.

That's $650 million a year nationwide. AARP Hawaii says there are more than 300,000 seniors in this state. Many have worked hard to save for retirement, and the crooks know this. "The older you get, the more assets you have. Seniors have assets. They often own their own home," Silva says.

How are online scammers looking to steal your money? Silva shares Hawaii's top complaint: "The big thing here is, people want to steal your identity. Once they have your identity, they can do just about anything." They can open credit cards in your name, drain your bank account, and ruin your credit.

Another popular scheme in Hawaii involves your computer's Windows program. "You get a call saying, 'There's a problem with your Windows, and if you go to this site we can fix it for you.' If you go to this site, you've opened the gateway to everything you own," he outlines. 

Also, don't be too trusting. Silva recalls a recent case in which a Hawaii woman fell for a fake investment pitch. "She took out a second mortgage on her home, now the house is in foreclosure. She gave him $300,000!" he shares.

AARP Hawaii wants to teach people about latest scams and safety tips. It also has a Fraud Watch Network online. You can pull up maps for each state. Red triangles in specific cities denote  information about recent scams and where they've been reported. You can even add to this by reporting a scam yourself at 1-877-908-3360. You can also sign up for free Watchdog Alerts.

Learn more about cyber crime at its free public events May 16 - 23. Will Bales, the supervising special agent for the FBI Honolulu Cyber Division, will give tips on how to avoid cyber scams and the role of the FBI in protecting the Americans. AARP Hawaii speakers will profile common online scams such as the romance scam, cyber blackmail, and scams targeting veterans.

“Don’t let scammers take your hard earned monies. The more you know about common scams and how to protect yourself, the harder it will be for scammers to steal your  money,” says Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP Hawaii state director.

The May seminars are free and you don’t have to be an AARP member to attend. Call 1-877-926-8300 or register at the links below:

Lihue: Thursday, May 16, 2019 at Kauai Community College from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Register online at https://aarp.cvent.com/cyber5-16.

Honolulu: Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the Ala Moana Hotel Garden Lanai from 9 a.m. to 11a.m. Register online at https://aarp.cvent.com/cyber5-18.

Hilo: Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at The Arc of Hilo from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Register online at https://aarp.cvent.com/cyber5-21.

Kona: Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at Humpy’s Big Island Ale House from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. https://aarp.cvent.com/kona5-21.

Wailuku: Thursday, May 23, 2019 at the J. Walter Cameron Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Register online at https://aarp.cvent.com/cyber5-23.