74-year-old woman fleeced $46,000 in iTunes gift card scam

A 74-year-old woman was fleeced of $46,000 in an iTunes gift card scam.

74-year-old woman fleeced $46,000 in iTunes gift card scam

A 74-year-old woman was fleeced of $46,000 in an iTunes gift card scam, but would have lost much more if a switched-on shopkeeper hadn’t been suspicious and contacted police on her behalf.

The Hawthorn woman is just one in a long line of people being scammed by con-artists pretending to be calling from telecommunications companies, the tax office and other government agencies requesting payment for purported debts using iTunes gift cards.

The man who called her stayed in touch with her for a week, forcing her to buy iTunes gift codes and send cash using Moneygram. He also hacked into her computer and internet banking.

The woman bought 330 gift cards before a retailer got wise, noticing how many cards she had purchased and how much money she was carrying, so he called the police.

Detective Senior Constable Cameron Mitchell called the attack ‘cruel and targeted’.

"It has been a traumatic experience for the victim and there is a message everyone can take from this," he said.

An elderly woman, Jenni Woodroffe, was swindled out of $4000 over three days by a similar scam, this one claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

The 80-year-old, hearing-impaired pensioner from Perth said the call sounded plausible, with two men claiming she owed a Centrelink debt and would lose her pension if she did not settle the debt with iTunes vouchers.

Another elderly man had lost $20,000 to a similar scam earlier this month.

"We've seen a number of reports come into us this year. Over $90,000 has been lost through these iTunes scams and it seems to be the new way of transferring money out of the country," said Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard.

"Regardless of the reason for payment, the scam follows a certain formula: The victim receives a call instilling panic and urgency to make a payment by purchasing iTunes gift cards from the nearest retailer," warns iTunes creator, Apple.

"After the cards have been purchased, the victim is asked to pay by sharing the 16-digit code on the back of the card with the caller over the phone.

"Please do not ever provide the numbers on the back of the card to someone you do not know," said Mr Hillyard.

It is important to remember that no government department or major company would ever ask for payment using iTunes gift cards. If you ever receive a call of this nature, immediately report it to police and Scamwatch.

Have you ever received any such calls? Do you know of anyone who has?

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    COMMENTS

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    Old Geezer
    28th Jul 2017
    10:34am
    I'm surprised these oldies even know what iTunes cards are let alone buy them.
    FrankC
    28th Jul 2017
    11:20am
    I wouldn't even know what you do with an iTunes card nor how to use it .
    Theo1943
    28th Jul 2017
    4:09pm
    It's a melody card Frank. You wrap a piece of tissue paper around it and play it like a jewish harp. :-)
    Old Man
    28th Jul 2017
    11:23am
    This is so sad. I have heard these scammers and their spiel and it's easy to see why some trusting people might fall for them. I was in a service industry and dealing with the public gave me a fair ability to read people and, I suppose, a heightened cynicism. I have a friend who was a university lecturer who got scammed out of hundreds so it seems that none are immune. I wish I had the answer to stop these insidious crooks.
    Mandy
    28th Jul 2017
    11:52am
    What I do not understand is that when an elderly lady has her handbag snatched, there will be a big hew and cry and the police will immediately become involved but when it is a scam which usually involves the theft of a much larger amount of money, all the person gets is advice to be more careful. Surely this type of crime should be treated with the same urgency. We want these criminals caught and given lengthy sentences when they are caught. It is so sickening seeing scammers slamming their car doors in Current Affairs interviewers faces or threatening to call the police as though they are the injured party. Why does the law protect these criminals?
    johninmelb
    28th Jul 2017
    12:02pm
    Most of these sorts of scammers are overseas, and therefore Australian police can do nothing. End of story.

    We just need more education for vulnerable people, to stop them falling victim to these things.

    I am 67 and don't claim to be any more clever than the next person, but even I know not to take any notice of these things. I automatically delete all unknown emails without opening them, I don't take any notice of emails, letters etc that tell me I have won $xx in a competition, I know I never entered, and I delete all SMS messages telling me how to collect my $100 Coles gift voucher, etc etc. Oh, and I have no friends or rellies in Nigeria with lots of money to spare!

    When did common sense go out of fashion? Young clueless kids I can understand, but us more mature people, have been round the block a few times, we know what's what, we're naturally suspicious and should be able to smell a con from a mile away. What's happened to us?
    johninmelb
    28th Jul 2017
    12:04pm
    And I also use my answering machine on the phone to avoid talking to phone scammers. It is easy.
    KB
    28th Jul 2017
    1:29pm
    This is very sad and naturally the elderly will be targeted as they are hard of hearing.I have a silent number and prefer to use my answering machine to avoid listening to scammers If people so not leave their name and company then I will not call back.
    casey
    28th Jul 2017
    2:02pm
    Silent numbers make no difference, the calls are computer generated and dial several numbers at the same time. First one to answer wins.
    Oldchick
    28th Jul 2017
    1:34pm
    I had a scam email come through that looked exactly like the Apple emails regarding invoices for songs or Apps. It was an invoice for an 'in-App' purchase which I knew I hadn't bought. It fooled me and I clicked into iTunes to see when I'd supposedly bought it, the iTunes account opened up and the purchase wasn't there. Straight away I knew I'd been stung. I immediately exited iTunes, changed my login details, phoned my bank but too late. They'd already taken out $128 from my credit card. I compared the real invoices to the fake one later and you really couldn't spot the difference. Their scams are so sophisticated now.
    casey
    28th Jul 2017
    2:06pm
    I received an email invoice from Origin Energy, my first thought was why, I had told them I wanted paper bills. Then I remembered, I was no longer with them I switched Providers a few months earlier. It was a scam invoice looked very real, except it was addressed to Dear customer instead of my name.
    Triss
    28th Jul 2017
    4:21pm
    You can stop a credi card transaction, I've done it if I've paid for something that hasn't arrived. I sent a letter to the credit company, they investigated and found I was in the right and the transaction was reversed by them.
    terrib
    28th Jul 2017
    2:38pm
    I received one a couple of months ago from someone saying that centrelink had been underpaying me & I was owed over $4000. He went on the spiel that once this is repayed I would get extra in my pension to the value of what I should be getting. I forget the sum he quoted but I knew it was a scam as I would never get that much from centrelink. I played along to see where it would lead & he wanted me to go immediately to purchase a certain amount of ITunes cards then ring him with the numbers on the back. Then I would be refunded all this money. I said I had been shopping for the day & would get them next time I went out. He said no it had to be now. Then he said it had to be Woollies I got them from. I said I didn't have one close it would have to be Coles. But he didn't like that, he said that a lady had tried that the day before & was not allowed to purchase them so it had to be Woollies. I said ok & hung up. I then reported it to Centrelink & Scamwatch. Never heard back from him.
    KSS
    28th Jul 2017
    3:38pm
    I an constantly amazed that anyone would believe that any Government body or any Australian business for that matter, would be asking for immediate payment via iTunes or any gift card. No matter what the threat, no matter how hard of hearing (although apparently they hear all the monetary demands) no matter how old the person, how stupid some people are is astounding.
    GiGi
    28th Jul 2017
    5:09pm
    This is a bit severe. Some very old people are just lonely, frightened and find it difficult to cope. They panic, and that is not stupid so much as perfectly understandable.
    Triss
    28th Jul 2017
    10:20pm
    Yes, GiGi, I agree with you.
    Calling people stupid, KSS, who have gone through the trauma of being conned says more about you than it does about them.
    Golden Oldie
    28th Jul 2017
    3:58pm
    Had a call from the supposed ATO a couple of days ago. I hung up immediately as soon as they said ATO. If the tax office want me to pay a non-existing debt they can send me a registered letter, or send the police around with a valid warrant. I'm over 70 and haven't had to pay income tax for years.
    Old Geezer
    28th Jul 2017
    4:44pm
    Isn't it wonderful how the try it on when you are at your most vulnerable. At least these people can be picked as scammers. However some others are not! Just watch last night's episode of the Checkout on iView about funerals.

    28th Jul 2017
    6:11pm
    Got a call from someone claiming to be Bill Shotens personal assistant
    Told me to buy $100 iTunes card and call him back with the number
    Immediately knew it was a scam when he said the money was to be used to pay off government debt and as soon as it was done , my pension would be doubled
    I mean seriously - who ever heard of labor paying off national debt
    KSS
    28th Jul 2017
    7:27pm
    And with itune cards no less! ha ha ha
    Mandy
    28th Jul 2017
    10:59pm
    The internet is international so there should be no borders for scammers to operate over. If a country refuses to take action against scammers hiding in their country, then that country should be black listed.
    Miranda
    29th Jul 2017
    5:49pm
    I have an answering machine and when the phone rings I don't pick it up if I don't recognise the number and they don't attempt to leave a message. I then google the number and 9 times out of 10 it is listed as a nuisance call or spam. I then locate the number on my phone and bar it.
    tex
    30th Jul 2017
    10:04am
    yeah mandy, im with you on that one,the Law is an ass.


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