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iTunes gift cards are being increasingly demanded by scammers as the preferred payment method, with victims being tricked into making purchases worth thousands of dollars.
The victims are usually caught up in telco or tax phone scams where they have to pay a certain amount to supposedly help catch someone who has hacked into their computer and accessed their bank account or pay a bogus tax debt urgently.
In the 2016-17 financial year, 25 victims in WA reported losses totalling almost $73,000 to Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet. In July 2017, the total rose to $93,000 when one elderly man reported purchasing $20,000 worth of iTunes gift cards after visiting seven stores at four shopping centres.
This is because of a campaign by Consumer Protection which resulted in retailers limiting iTunes gift card transactions, but victims have by-passed the restrictions by making multiple purchases at multiple outlets.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the community needs to be aware that no company, organisation or government department will ever demand iTunes cards as a form of payment.
“Most of the victims are seniors who may not understand what iTunes cards are, but are told by scammers that they are an acceptable payment method and they feel obliged to follow instructions from people they believe are in authority,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Once the victims provide the card numbers, the scammers are presumably able to on-sell the vouchers to convert them into cash.
“People need to be aware of this tactic by scammers and inform their elderly relatives, friends and neighbours about it so they will think twice when called by scammers and asked to purchase iTunes cards in response to a variety of pretences.
“We would also urge shop assistants to question customers who request to purchase large amounts of iTunes gift cards and alert them to the fact that they could be a victim of a scam and make them think twice about their actions.”
WA ScamNet advice if you get a call like this is to:
· Hang up. If you speak with scammers, you enable them to obtain information from you to help them target you further.
· Do not respond to numbers supplied in an automated call.
· Delete any messages left on an answerphone or voicemail service.
· Speak to someone you trust about the scam call to put your mind at ease.
More information on scams is available on the WA ScamNet website www.scamnet.wa.gov.au. Enquiries can be made by emailing email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org