Fraudsters are targeting hundreds of unsuspecting victims who have made payments using iTunes cards.
Action Fraud - the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime - has received reports from victims who have tried to purchase items and never received them.
And in hundreds of cases reported to Action Fraud since May last year, fraudsters have requested that victims purchase Apple iTunes gift cards to pay outstanding tax to Her Majesty Revenues and Customs (HMRC).
There are three methods commonly used by fraudsters:
Voicemails: Fraudsters leave automated voicemails stating that the victim owes HMRC unpaid taxes. When victims call back on the number provided, they are told that there is a warrant out for their arrest, unless they make payment via iTunes Vouchers.
Spoofed calls: Fraudsters cold-call victims using a spoofed 0300 200 3300 number and convincing them that they owe unpaid tax to HMRC.
Text messages: Fraudsters send text messages requesting that victims urgently call back on the number provided. They are then told that there is a case being built against them for an outstanding debt and they must pay immediately.
iTunes gift cards appeal to fraudsters to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and sold on. The physical card isn’t required to redeem the value, so the scammers can instead get victims to read out the serial code on the back over the phone.
Action Fraud have issued the following advice on protecting yourself from this type of online fraud
- HMRC will never use text message to inform about a tax rebate or penalty.
- HMRC will never ask for any payment in the form of iTunes Vouchers.
- HMRC will only post out a P800 tax calculations, in circumstances of under or overpayment of taxes, if you’re employed or get a pension.
Payments using iTunes Vouchers may not be recoverable.
Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should not trust the number you see on your telephone display as proving the caller is genuinely calling from HMRC.
Be protective of divulging other personal details such as National Insurance number, passport number and bank details over the telephone.
If you receive an unexpected call, whereby the caller requests an advance fee in the form of iTunes gift cards, the call should immediately be terminated.