Police have warned residents of an iTunes gift card scam that has already claimed two victims.
On Wednesday, July 4, an 80-year-old man was contacted by scammers who said that his computer had been used to send images to the USA.
After threatening him, the man was forced to buy $500 worth of iTunes gift cards and provide the access codes through his webcam to them.
They then took total control of his computer and forced him to buy a further $1000 worth of gift cards.
Last month, a Taree man received a call from a scammer who claimed to be from Telstra.
The scammer told the man his computer had a virus and he needed to provide iTunes gift cards as payment for catching the offenders.
The victim was then asked by the scammer to grant access to his computer.
The scammer then accessed the victim’s bank account and transferred funds without permission.
The man, believing he had received funds from Telstra, purchased $6000 worth of iTunes gift cards and displayed the activation code via webcam.
Manning Great Lakes Police District Chief Inspector Christine George said it was disappointing and frustrating that criminals were targeting vulnerable people.
“I have no doubt there are more offences which have not been reported to police,” Chief Inspector George said.
“If they’re asking for iTunes cards, be advised that no government agency will ask for them as payment.”
Chief Inspector George added this was not the first time that scammers had approached residents in the area.
“There were numerous reports from Forster last year.”
She added that another prevalent scam occurs during tax return time, where scammers cold call residents and state the victim owes a substantial amount of funds to the tax department.
They are then told if they do not pay the bill within a few hours police will arrest them.
Payments of iTunes gift cards will also be demanded.
Chief Inspector George said there have been large numbers of these scams nationwide.
“Please remember that no business or government agency will ever ask for payment by iTunes Cards.
“The caller can be very forceful and often abusive when the victims refuse to provide access to computers.
“We advise the community to hang up if anyone rings asking for iTunes payments because you don’t need to stay on the phone and be abused by a criminal.
“If you’re in doubt, call the police,” Chief Inspector George said.
In May 2018, more than 12 billion dollars was stolen by scammers in Australia.
Phone scams were attributed to 44 per cent of money stolen.
People aged 65 years and older are identified as the most susceptible to these scams.
Chief Inspector George added that residents can visit www.scamwatch.gov.au to keep up-to-date with scams in circulation.
Businesses who sell iTunes gift cards are asked to be vigilant when people attempt to purchase large amounts of iTunes cards.
“Ask a few questions to ensure the victim is not buying under duress,” Chief Inspector George said.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, contact Taree Police Station on 6552 0399 or Forster Police Station on 6555 1299.