Redbourn woman avoids £60,000 iTunes voucher scam in Herts
PUBLISHED: 14:20 10 June 2016 | UPDATED: 14:20 10 June 2016
A fraudster who tried to trick a 65 year old woman in Redbourn out of thousands of pounds by buying iTunes vouchers failed when she became suspicious and immediately hung up on his cold calls.
Although the woman, who was targeted several times by the alleged scammer, avoided being conned, other people have been taken in and parted with tens of thousands of pounds.
Herts Police have today (Friday) issued a warning to local residents about the scam phone calls, which have seen older people across the county conned out of about £60,000 within a fortnight.
• An 83 year old man was tricked into buying £10,000 worth of iTunes vouchers, and purchased a further £15,000 worth a week later, when police intervened
• Nearly £22,000 worth of iTunes vouchers were bought over three separate transactions by a 70 year old woman.
• A 77 year old woman bought £2,100 worth of iTunes vouchers from three different supermarkets.
Detective Sergeant Jon Leak, from the force’s Operation Manhunt unit, said: “While we have been made aware of numerous scam phone calls, this is a new method which we haven’t seen previously in Herfordshire.”
He explained that the iTunes voucher scam involved the fraudster contacting residents, claiming to be from the HMRC and asking for money. The scammer told his victims that if they did not pay, they would be arrested.
The caller then asked those targeted to pay the sum in iTunes vouchers – the codes of which were to be passed on to him.
The woman he attempted to scam in Redbourn was phoned three times on May 17.
During the first attempt the caller claimed to be from HMRC, saying the villager owed taxes - but when the resident asked some questions, the man hung up.
In the second phone call, a woman claiming to be a recorded message stated that the victim owed money and that her account would be frozen if she did not pay up.
The third call was from a man again stating that the woman owed money. And, when the victim challenged the caller, the fraudster said they would have to seize her property.
Despite the threat, the woman warned she would phone the police, and refused to give any details.
DS Leak said: “I would urge people to remain vigilant if they receive calls of a similar nature. Legitimate organisations would never request payments to be made in this way.
“Unfortunately these fraudsters are very convincing and their actions can have a devastating effect on their victims.”
His advice to those targeted by the fraudster was to, “end the call and contact the police on 101. Remember to wait at least five minutes, or use a different number [for example your mobile phone] to ensure you are not reconnected to the offender.
“I would like to hear from anyone else who has been contacted in similar circumstances, as the information could greatly assist our investigation.”
For further information about phone scams see www.herts.police.uk/phonescams
Herts Police have also asked people to share this information with neighbours, friends and relatives who may not have access to a computer.