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Scammers claim to be from HMRC and demand iTunes vouchers

May 12, 2017
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Police are asking people to be vigilant after an elderly woman was conned out of £4,000.

The 85-year-old from Carlton was contacted on Wednesday (10 May 2017) by someone with a foreign accent claiming to be from HMRC telling her she owed £4,000 in tax dating back to 1969 and that if she didn't pay, the police would come and arrest her straight away. They demanded her mobile number and kept her on the phone for most of the day.

She was instructed to go to a supermarket in Arnold and purchase iTunes vouchers, however they only had £2,000 worth of cards available. The staff did ask her why she was buying so many but she toldthem they were a present for a relative abroad as instructedby the suspects.

She was then instructed to go to a supermarket in Castle Marina for the other £2,000 worth of iTunes vouchers. Again, she was asked about her purchase but gave them the same story.

After this, she was instructed to read the card numbers out to the offender on the phone which she did,  but after feeling wary, she took a taxi home. She then told her neighbour who called the police.She was then contacted by the suspects yesterday who said they would send someone round to pick up the vouchers. Officers have put measures in place to protect her but believe the offenders are abroad.

Detective Sergeant Nikki Smith of Nottinghamshire Police said: "We’ve had several incidents like this where the suspects purport to be from HMRC and demand the purchase of iTunes vouchers to settle the bill, it’s believed to be a national scam.  iTunes have a warning on their website but not many elderly people will see this. Additionally, although on both occasions this victim was challenged by supermarket staff, this is unusual and we would ask retailers to be even more robustin their questioning of people purchasing large amounts of vouchers in these circumstances, particularly the elderly. We would like people to become more aware of these kind of scams and certainly, HMRC do not operate in this manner to recover any taxes outstanding. We need to look out for our most vulnerable people who could be at riskfrom fraudsters, and challenge them if we become suspicious. You can also report any concerns to 101."

A HMRC spokesperson said: "HMRC takes security extremely seriously. We are aware that some people have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from HMRC. We are a well-known brand, which criminals abuse, to add credibility to their scams. HMRC will never request tax debts to be paid in payment vouchers and we are clear that they cannot be used to pay tax.

"We recommend that if you cannot verify the identity of a caller that you do not speak to them. We encourage you to check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams, recognise genuine HMRC contact and make payments to HMRC."

101 is the number to call when you need to contact Nottinghamshire Police and it’s less urgent than a 999 call. Calls cost 15p, no matter how long the call lasts.

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