$128,000 stolen from AUW office


POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2009

About $128,000 in donations was stolen from the Aloha United Way office in Honolulu during Thanksgiving weekend, raising fears that donors who wrote checks might be vulnerable to identity theft.

The theft occurred on Nov. 29 at the office at 200 N. Vineyard Blvd., Suite 700, the charity confirmed.

Forty-five companies on Oahu participated in a recent fundraising campaign, collecting an estimated $128,000, all of which was taken.

Officials did not release the breakdown of cash and check donations. A source said a Dec. 9 e-mail from Dee Okahara, vice president of the organization's campaign, informed business and government officials of the loss.

“;It has taken some time to reconstruct things, but we are now in the process of contacting companies and individuals whose information was stolen,”; said Okahara. She could not be reached for comment.

Details were unavailable on how the thief or thieves gained access to the office. No arrests have been made in the continuing police investigation.

Additional security measures were recently implemented at the office to ensure another theft does not happen, said Aloha United Way President Susan Doyle.

Among the agencies that held open-to-the-public fundraisers this fall for the campaign are the state Department of Budget and Finance, the state attorney general's office and the Honolulu prosecutor's office.

Those who used checks to pay for items at those fundraisers are urged to call their financial institutions because their personal information may have been compromised.

The nonprofit organization contacted affected companies via phone, letters and e-mails.

In a Dec. 9 letter, Doyle recommended donors report their stolen checks to their financial institutions and to stop payment.

The organization will pay for all stop-payment fees. Donors also should review their bank statements and sign up for free credit reports to check for suspicious activity.

“;We are saddened that monies donated to Aloha United Way were stolen. More importantly, we are truly sorry that this has directly affected our generous donors. When a criminal act of this nature occurs, it affects everyone, including the much-needed services to our community,”; said Doyle in a written statement.