Fraudsters posing as HMRC hijack iTunes

A taxpayer who bought and handed over £15,000 in Apple iTunes gift card vouchers is one of “hundreds” of HMRC customers to be defrauded in the past month, a scam bulletin says.

Rather than the obvious of asking for bank details, fraudsters posing as HMRC confuse people with talk of new e-payment options, saying a gift card is a way to use Apple Pay.

But Apple Pay, a digital wallet service whereby contactless payments can be received and made by iPhones securely, is completely unrelated to the company’s music service iTunes.

Nonetheless, one red-faced victim purchased and handed over to fraudsters 15 iTunes gift card vouchers worth £100 each; another gave codes over the phone that were worth £15,000.

Action Fraud, which disclosed the cases as a warning to others, say the ‘HMRC officers’ approach their marks via text message, voicemail or smartphone and demand payment.

“[Gift cards] can be easily redeemed and easily sold on,” AF said in a bulletin. “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.”

The bulletin advises that HMRC never uses SMS messages to inform taxpayers about a tax rebate or penalty, and never requests payments via online vouchers or codes.

Action Fraud adds that a similar scam is being used by fraudsters who are posing as police officers, lawyers and debt collectors, often via official-looking but spoof numbers, notably (in the UK) 0300 200 3300.

May 26, 2016