Australian Federal Police have been alerted to a global scam where iTunes cards are used to launder money. The alert follows the jailing of five men in the UK who were using the Apple issued cards to transfer money via eBay.
The UK offence, which saw close to $2 million dollars transacted using iTunes cards, is of particular interest, say Australian police officers, after it was revealed that JB Hi-Fi is the biggest seller of iTunes gift cards in the world. The five men in the UK were caught after a police search when the men returned from an overseas trip.
In May 2007, UK police stopped three men – including Mohammed Arfan Rasool and Imran Aslam – as part of a routine search when they arrived from Amsterdam.
The BBC reports that a “suspicious” laptop belonging to Rasool was seized and examined by Greater Manchester Police’s economic crime unit.
When officers examined the hard drive, along with two other computers found at his home, they found the details of more than 7,000 bank cards. The same details were found on computers seized from Tufail. They later discovered that many of the details had been used to fraudulently purchase iTunes cards.
It emerged that Tufail developed the idea of buying the vouchers and then selling them at a reduced price to launder cash from the cards.
Detective Inspector Neal Colburn, of Greater Manchester Police, said, “This was a complex fraud on a large scale. The group thought they had a sophisticated scam to launder money, but the pro-active intervention of the police got in their way.”
An eBay spokesperson said the company had worked closely with police to provide evidence and was “delighted” with the sentences.
“Criminal activity is not tolerated on our site and we will continue to work alongside law enforcement agencies to ensure that anyone who attempts to commit fraudulent activity on eBay won’t get away with it,” they added.
An Australian Federal Police Officer said, “We are well aware of the situation in the UK and we are already investigating whether iTunes cards are used to launder money in Australia”.