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HMRC and Apple gift card fraud

26th January 2017

In the hundreds of cases reported to Action Fraud since May last year, fraudsters have been  continually requesting victims purchase Apple iTunes gift cards as a means of payment for cons involving Her Majesty Revenues and Customs (HMRC).

The fraudsters are using the following contact methods to defraud people:

  • Voicemails: Fraudsters are leaving victims automated voicemails stating they owe 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 are cold calling victims using a spoofed 0300 200 3300 number and convincing them that they owe unpaid tax to HMRC.
  • Text messages: Fraudsters are sending text messages requesting victims to urgently call back on the number provided. When victims call back, they are told that there is a case being built against them for an outstanding debt and they must pay immediately.

Fraudsters are using iTunes gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and sold on. The 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 to them.

Action Fraud has been working with Apple and HMRC to warn people about this type of fraud.

How to protect yourself

  • 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.

Report fraud and cyber crime to Action Fraud and receive a police crime reference number.

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