HM Revenue and Customs is warning the public about a high profile phone scam that is conning vulnerable and elderly people out of thousands of pounds.
The scammers are preying on victims by cold calling them and impersonating an HMRC member of staff.
They tell them that they owe large amounts of tax which they can only pay off through digital vouchers and gift cards, including those used for Apple’s iTunes Store. Victims are told to go to a local shop, buy these vouchers and then read out the redemption code to the scammer who has kept them on the phone the whole time. The conmen then sell on the codes or purchase high-value products, all at the victim’s expense.
The latest incident reported was a woman from Cumbria who was instructed to pay a £597 bill in iTunes vouchers. She went to a local supermarket and purchased the vouchers – handing the details over the phone to the fraudster.
Figures from Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, show that between the beginning of 2016 and August there were more than 1,500 reports of this scam. The vast majority of the victims are aged over 65 and suffered an average financial loss of £1,150 each.