HU NDREDS HIT BY Bogus iTUNES scam; TAX HOAX Victims lose thousands of pounds Victims lose thousands in iTunes phone scam.
Fraud victims have shelled out thousands of pounds on iTunes vouchers after being targeted by bogus tax collectors.
Hundreds of homes across Renfrewshire have been hit over the past week as phone con artists rip off unsuspecting families.
In the latest crime this week, a 46-yearold Johnstone woman spent almost PS1,000 on the digital music vouchers before passing on the valuable codes to TURN TO PAGE 9 FROM PAGE 1 crooks pretending to be from HMRC.
Chief Superintendent Gordon Crossan warned that scammers are using phone messenger services to contact as many potential victims as possible.
He explained: "The people who perpetrate these scams use mass messaging knowing that most people will not be duped.
"However, they also know that such messaging will reach vulnerable people, particularly the elderly.
"It's really important that Express readers ensure their family and friends are aware of the scam and encourage them to be vigilant."
Cops made the appeal after the 46-year-old victim came forward to say she had been conned into buying iTunes vouchers from Tesco Barrhead.
The crooks left a message on her phone on Wednesday and, when she called back, she was ordered to stump up nearly PS1,000 in unpaid back taxes, or face arrest. The panicked care worker was instructed to buy PS987 in iTunes vouchers then call back with the codes from the vouchers, which crooks can then use online, in order to clear the alleged debt.
A 79-year-old woman also fell victim of the callous fraud after she bought PS500 worth of vouchers in Morrison's, in Paisley, on Tuesday.
The criminals ordered the pensioner to take a taxi to her nearest supermarket to make the purchase, or face arrest.
We reported earlier this week how Tesco Linwood staff had prevented a 79-year-old woman and an autistic 52-year-old man from falling foul to the same scam.
Both were ordered to buy PS500 worth of iTunes vouchers, but alerted checkout staff, who raised the alarm.
Police investigators say it is difficult to trace where scammers are phoning from as the calls are diverted through different networks.
A similar scam gripped Renfrewshire in 2016, when pensioners and other vulnerable people were taken in by the fraud. Inspector Tracy Harkins, from Paisley's community policing team, said: "No reputable company or organisation will ever ask you to buy iTunes vouchers for any reason.
"If you receive a call from someone purporting to be from a particular company or organisation and you are not sure if they are authentic, hang up and call them back on a recognised number.
"It appears that many of the calls are coming from number with a Manchester area code, which is 0161.
"If you receive a call from a Manchester number that you are not expecting, I would encourage you to exercise extreme caution."
She also thanked shop staff for preventing people from falling victim to the fraud, and asked that they continue to be vigilant.
She added: "I would ask shop staff to be aware of any older or vulnerable people making large purchases of music vouchers."
If you have received a scam call, contact police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
An Apple spokesman said: "A string of scams are taking place asking people to make payments over the phone for things such as taxes, hospital bills, bail money, debt collection, and utility bills. "The scams are committed using many methods, including gift cards.
"As the fraudsters are sometimes using iTunes gift cards, we want to make sure our customers are aware of these scams.
"It's important to know that iTunes gift cards can be used only to purchase goods and services on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or for an Apple Music membership.
"If you're approached to use the cards for payment outside of the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or Apple Music, you could very likely be the target of a scam and should immediately report it to Action Fraud."
HMRC confirmed there had been more than 1,500 reports of the scam across the UK last year. It revealed that many of the victims were over the age of 65 and lost, on average, PS1,150 each.
Warning Inspector Cassie Glass and Sergeant Alan Mack with the iTunes gift cards
Con The crooks are ordering victims to go to their nearest supermarket and buy iTunes cards
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|Publication:||Paisley Daily Express (Paisley, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jan 13, 2018|
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