Crime Prevention at Northumbria Police are issuing warnings of a iTunes vouchers scam, involving iTunes vouchers or moneygrams.
They have received reports of elderly or vulnerable people attending stores or post offices to purchase large amounts of iTunes vouchers.
Victims are being contacted in three ways:
- Voicemails: Fraudsters are leaving victims automated voicemails saying they are from HMRC or the National Crime Agency. They say the victim owes HMRC unpaid taxes. When victims call back on the number provided, they are told that there is a warrant out in their name and if they don’t pay, the police will arrest them.
- Spoofed calls: Fraudsters are cold calling victims using a spoofed 0300 200 3300 number and convincing them that they owe unpaid tax to HMRC.
- Text messages: Fraudsters are sending text messages that require victims to urgently call back on the number provided. When victims call back, they are told that there is a case being built against them for an outstanding debt and they must pay immediately.
They may also be told their personal details have been hacked and that in order to conduct an investigation payment is required.
Payment to the fraudsters is usually requested via iTunes vouchers or moneygram vouchers.
Fraudsters are now moving onto iTunes gift cards to collect money from victims because these can be easily redeemed and easily sold on. The scammers don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to read out the serial code on the back over the phone.
One victim had reported purchasing over 15 iTunes gift card vouchers from Argos at £100 pounds each and handing them over to fraudsters on the phone after receiving an automated voice message. Another victim handed gift card voucher codes worth £15,000 after receiving a cold call.
Crime Prevention ask that everyone be aware and make sure that elderly and vulnerable neighbours, friends and family members are warned of this scam.
How to protect yourself:
- HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way.
- Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display.
- If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Northumbria Police on 101, or visit http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/alert-hmrc-and-itunes-gift-card-scam-may16
For more on Home Security, Bogus Callers, Scams or Anti Social Behaviour, see Golden Guide Northumberland pages 50-52 or Golden Guide Newcastle & North Tyneside pages 46-49