The ACCC is warning Australian consumers to “be on the lookout for scammers who are trying to con their victims into paying for scams with Apple iTunes gift cards”.
The watchdog’s Scamwatch reports that within 2017 to date “1236 people lost nearly $540,000 to scammers using gift cards as payments”. Clearly the manouver is a growing trend, being a jump from $480,000 within 2015-2016.
Speaking of the scam ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard states:
“Scammers are increasingly getting their victims to pay with iTunes gift cards as they can quickly on-sell them and pocket the money. If someone asks you to pay for anything using an iTunes gift card, it is a scam”
“There are never any circumstances where a legitimate business or government department will ask for payment this way”.
The ACCC references clear instructions on Apple’s website stating, “iTunes gift cards can only be used to purchase goods and services on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or for an Apple Music membership”.
Reports state that there are three common versions of the scam:
- Tax related – Scammer pretends to be from the ATO, claiming there is a warrant for a person’s address. Should individual not pay the ‘fine’ using iTunes giftcards, police will be notified.
- Catch-a-hacker scam – Scammer pretends to be from Telstra requesting for assistance to catch a hacker trying to infiltrate their devices/smartphones. Requests the user buys iTunes giftcards as a way to catch the scammer.
- Centrelink related – Scammer pretends to be from Centrelink and inform victims that they’re entitled to an additional fee, however, to access it they will need to purchase an iTunes card.
The ACCC has implored retailers to inform their staff of these scams, such that they can warn and advise consumers, especially those spending a large amount on them.
Ms Rickhards states of the difficulty to get someone’s money back after the scam:
“If you pay for a scammer’s con with iTunes gift cards it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. Don’t ever believe the scammer’s lies, no matter how convincing they sound—hang up on their calls and delete their emails immediately”.
“The scammers are very persistent once they have a victim hooked and will, for example, keep their victim on the phone while they’re in a store buying the gift cards. Once a victim has bought the card, the scammer will get them to quickly read the serial number on the back—it’s this information they use to then on-sell the gift card”.
Individuals who have been targeted by the scam, are requested to report the scam to Scamwatch here.