Scammers are tricking UK citizens into handing over iTunes gift cards worth thousands of pounds.
Police are warning the UK public about a new scam where fraudsters are pretending to be from HM Revenue & Customs, and asking people to pay bogus taxes using iTunes gift cards. Hundreds of cases have been reported to police in the past month, all of which included demands for Apple voucher codes.
One victim is revealed to have purchased over 15 iTunes gift cards from Argos – each one valued at £100 – and handing over the codes to scammers on the phone. Another victim shelled out an incredible £15,000 on iTunes gift cards after receiving a cold call, the codes for which went straight to criminals.
Apple iTunes gift cards
The scammers are contacting people in three ways:
Voicemails: Victims are left automated voicemails saying that they owe HMRC unpaid taxes. When the victim follows up on the call, they’re told a warrant is out for their arrest.
Spoofed calls: Victims are also being cold-called using a “spoofed” 0300 200 3300 number.
Text messages: The final method is via SMS. Text messages from fraudsters urge victims to call back on the number provided, only to be told that they have an outstanding debt with HMRC.
“Fraudsters are now moving onto iTunes gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and easily sold on,” said a police spokesperson. “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.”
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How to avoid iTunes gift card scam
You should always be cautious when anyone asks for payment over the phone, especially if you haven’t found the number on an official website.
The police offer the following advice:
- 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 be easily spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display
- If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately
If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you can contact the police’s Action Fraud division on 0300 123 2040. Just don’t send them any iTunes gift cards codes…
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Have you ever been the target of an online scam? Let us know in the comments.