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FRAUD -enabled by Home telephone and mobile - HMRC iTunes gift card Scam

Alert message sent 20/10/2016 09:00:00

Information sent on behalf of Durham Constabulary

*** Fraud warning – iTunes Gift card Scam ***
 
We have had recent reports from a number of people targeted by fraudsters pretending to be from HMRC.
 
 
Victims are being contacted in a variety of methods – which can include voicemails and text messages – and being told they owe an outstanding debt. They are then informed the payment can be made quickly and easily by using an iTunes gift card voucher code, which can be purchased online or in store.
 
The fraudsters claim that failure to clear the ‘debt’ will lead to a fine or even an arrest. The fraudsters are even shouting at victims causing some to be panicked and frightened.  One victim , whom was recovering from a serious medical condition and coping with some major personal issues, informed the fraudster of this , who then said 'Sorry' before demanding more money.
 
Once the criminals have the serial code they are then free to use it, at the victim’s expense, often claiming to be dealing with the HMRC debt that day at court and that in order to make it easier for the victim HMRC will except payment via iTune giftcards as they can claim the money back.
 
One such case in our area has led to the victim being out of pocket by £2,500 with another victim in another part of the country losing £15,000.
 
If you work or are involved in a shop or store that sells these gift cards, please make other staff aware to be on their guard if they have any suspicions about large purchases of iTunes vouchers. A few days ago quick thinking by staff at the Durham branch of WH Smith prevented a woman in her eighties buying £250 worth of  iTunes gift cards after she received an automated voicemail. 
 
“Fraudsters are now moving onto iTunes gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and quick purchases can be made with them. 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,” said Det Con Tony Murray, from the force’s economic crime unit.
“They are putting the victims under real pressure by stating if the debt is not repaid swiftly then the police will be sent to arrest them. These types of criminals are expert in what they do and very skilled at sounding plausible., they do not give the victims time to think”
Watch out for cold calls using the number 0300 200 3300 or numbers begining 0203 – this is being used by the ‘HMRC’ fraudsters.
“We would urge people to hang up on fraud. Official bodies such as HMRC, banks and the police do not carry out their business in this way and if you receive a call, a text or voicemail you have any concerns about or a phone call from  someone who claims to be your bank, phone supplier HMRC or even then police then simply say that you do not do business on the phone and hang up,” said DC Murray.
 
For further information on how to protect yourself from fraud visit  www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk or follow @takefive on facebook. Further fraud and cyber crime prevention advice can be found at Getsafeonline.org
 
Message sent by
Tony Murray (Police, Officer, Durham)

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