Police Scotland is urging members of the public to be on their guard of a scam in which fraudsters encourage their victims to pay off debts with iTunes vouchers.
A number of residents living in the North East have made officers aware that they have been contacted by a person claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs who states there has been an issue with their tax payments and that unless this payment in received in full they could be arrested. They are then encouraged to buy a quantity of iTune vouchers often totalling hundreds of pounds and asked to read out the codes to the fraudsters over the telephone.
On other occasions the fraudster pretends to be calling on behalf of a PPI claims company and advises their victim that they are entitled to a large sum of money. In this case they are told that the money can only be released if they purchase iTunes vouchers and are urged to provide the codes to the fraudster.
PC Kev Marron, Crime Reduction Officer, said
These fraudsters panic people into acting in an irrational manner that they would probably in the cold light of day not normally behave in. Often they telephone at times when their victims would have no access to other forms of payment to pay off the so-called ‘debt’ and so they agree to the fraudsters demands.
“t is imperative that people realise that financial institutions and professional organisations do not take payment of any kind by iTune vouchers. People should not be rushed into taking any kind of action and if there is any doubt about the authenticity of the telephone call then hang up and speak to a family member, friend, the Citizens Advice Bureau or call Police.
These type of telephone calls are often made by fraudsters with a variety of accents so people should be on their guard at all times, even if the caller sounds local. I would ask that people make their friends, families and especially anyone who they may think is particularly vulnerable aware of this scam and to remind them never to give their financial details over the telephone or by e-mail.
Inspector Colin Taylor, who leads a team of Crime Reduction Officers within the North East, added
We are working in partnership with our colleagues in the retail sector and have spoken with several organisations such as Retailers Against Crime, The Scottish Business Resilience Centre and Neighbourhood Watch who are helping us spread this message by getting retailers to be mindful of customers who buy unusually large amounts of iTune vouchers, especially if the purchase appears out of the ordinary and particularly if they are elderly or appear vulnerable.
I would like to take this opportunity to bring this type of crime to the attention of all retailers and ask for their help in making sure that it is stopped in its tracks before victims lose out.