Number of victims for Apple iTunes card scam doubles

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Scammers are tricking innocent victims to part with their money by using iTunes gift cards as their preferred method of payment.

According to Consumer Protection WA ScamNet data, 34 victims purchased iTunes cards worth $116,909 in 2017, in comparison 17 victims reported losses totalling $68,637 in 2016.

The cold calling scammers pretend they are from Telstra or the Australian Taxation Office.

They tell their targets they must pay an outstanding debt urgently, repay a credit that has appeared in their bank account or assist in catching a hacker who has supposedly accessed their bank account.

One recent scam victim went to a Woolworths store and made 16 separate purchases of $500 iTunes cards. She then went to Coles and purchased three $1,000 iTunes cards plus $300 resulting in a $11,300 loss.

In 2017, 398 victims reported losing $8,060,899 in scams. The number of victims was more than the 372 victims reported in 2016 but losses were less than the 2016 total of $9,037,153.

While there has been a doubling of losses from employment and investment scams, the losses from dating and romance scams have halved.

For more information and advice on scams, visit http://www.scamnet.wa.gov.au

Comments attributed to Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston:

"It's disturbing to see scammers get away with these heartless, criminal activities especially as it's mainly vulnerable, senior members of our community that are targeted.

"It's good to see the overall total losses for scam victims are slightly lower compared to 2016, but our work to reduce and eventually prevent these losses must continue.

"While some retailers, such as Woolworths and Coles, have put strategies in place, all retailers can do more to enforce a policy of 'per customer limits' on iTunes card sales and educate their staff to question unusual and expensive purchases."

Minister's office - 6552 6700

Scam types and value of losses - 2017

2016 2017 Variance $
Jobs and investment $1,738,461 $3,289,911 $1,551,450
Dating and romance $4,098,758 $2,029,012 (-$2,069,746)
Attempts to gain your personal information $1,136,437 $1,041,322 (-$95,115)
Buying and selling $394,791 $948,676 $553,885
Unexpected money $1,404,752 $490,226 (-$914,526)
Fake charities $20 $110,820 $110,800
Unexpected winnings $49,445 $101,673 $52,228
Threats and extortion $214,489 $49,258 (-$165,231)
TOTAL $9,037,153 $8,060,899 (-$976,254)

 

Scam types and number of victims - 2017

2016 2017 Variance #
Buying and selling 114 164 50
Attempts to gain your personal information 41 58 17
Dating and romance 65 51 (-14)
Jobs and investment 64 51 (-13)
Unexpected money 28 32 4
Threats and extortion 40 23 (-17)
Unexpected winnings 19 15 (-4)
Fake charities 1 4 3
TOTAL 372 398 26
Consumer Protection
Media release
01 Feb 2018

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