Hampshire Trading Standards Service has received reports of scams where the victim is asked to make a payment by purchasing iTunes gift cards. This means the fraudster can receive large amounts of money whilst remaining anonymous and untraceable.
Case study 1
Mr S received an unsolicited telephone call from a man who purported to work for HMRC. He said they had written to Mr S advising that he owed £4000 in tax but this letter had been returned. The caller put pressure on Mr S and said that he would be in trouble if the debt was not settled quickly and may receive a large fine or risk being arrested. The caller advised that the quickest way to pay this back would be to purchase iTunes gift cards as these could be redeemed over the telephone. Mr S purchased the gift cards in multiples of £100. The fraudster then contacted Mr S and asked for the activation numbers. Once given, the fraudster asked Mr S to purchase further gift cards. When Mr S returned to the shop the manager became suspicious and informed him this was a scam.
Case study 2
Mrs N received an unsolicited phone call from a man who purported to work for The Ministry of Justice. He told her she was owed £2500 and a solicitor would hand deliver a cheque to her at home during the evening. However, he told her she would need to purchase £150 in iTunes gift cards to give to the solicitor. Mrs N was suspicious and asked if the solicitor could call the following day. At this stage the caller said she had previously confirmed her address and he asked if she lived alone. Mrs N terminated the call and reported the matter to the police. Mrs N said she had been the victim of similar scams in the past.
Hampshire Trading Standards Service and the Police advise that if you have older relatives, friends or neighbours please make them aware of this scam and remind them not to give any details to unexpected callers.
If you work in a retail premise that sells iTunes gift cards please bear this scam in mind. You may want to make tactful enquires if the customer appears confused or is looking to buy gift cards at a high value. If in doubt, ask a colleague or your manager.