- Victims, the vast majority aged over 65, have lost on average £1,150
- Fraudsters cold call people pretending to be HMRC members of staff
- They tell them they owe tax which can be paid off only in Apple iTunes vouchers
Older people are being tricked out of thousands of pounds by fraudsters who ask them to pay off nonexistent tax debts in Apple’s iTunes vouchers.
HM Revenue and Customs said hundreds of vulnerable and elderly people have fallen victim to the scam, which sees fraudsters cold calling people pretending to be HMRC members of staff.
Victims are told they owe large amounts of tax which they can only pay off through Apple’s iTunes vouchers. Fraudsters ask them to go to a local shop, purchase these vouchers and read out the redemption code, which they then sell or use to buy high-value products.
HMRC is raising awareness of an iTunes scam by writing to major retailers (Chris Radburn/PA)
Victims have lost on average £1,150 so far, although for some the loss has been significantly higher.
Over 1,500 reports of this scam have been filed since 2016, according to figures from Action Fraud, with the vast majority of victims aged over 65.
HM Revenue has written to the chief executives of major UK supermarkets, asking them to tell its staff about the scam so that they can help protecting their customers.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general of customer service, said: ‘Supermarket staff are often the last line of defence against these fraudsters.
‘That’s why I’ve written to the chief executives of major UK retailers to urge them to make their staff aware of this scam so they can help protect unsuspecting customers.’
HMRC said that, as well as raising awareness, its action to shut down scamming operations includes identifying and initiating the takedown of website links being used by criminals.
HOW TO REPORT FRAUD
If you receive a suspicious text message, you can forward it to HMRC’s fraud team by texting it to 60599. Text messages will be charged at your network rate.
You can forward suspicious emails to HMRC’s phishing team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, contact Action Fraud. You can report a crime online here. Its advisers are also available 24/7 on web chat if you have any questions.