Woman loses $46,000 to iTunes gift card scam

27 July 2017

Written by: Jarryd Barca

An elderly Melbourne woman has fallen victim to the latest wave of scams targeting Apple's iTunes gift cards.

A 74-year-old Melbourne woman has been left traumatised after losing $46,000 to an overseas scamming network.

Claiming to work for a major Indian telecommunications company, the offenders manipulated the Hawthorn local to purchase 330 iTunes vouchers and send the codes over the phone, as well as sending cash via MoneyGram – a major international transfer company – to various Indian bank accounts.

The scammers remained in contact with the victim for one week, letting her believe she was already the victim of a scam.

The criminal told the woman he was depositing money into her account in order to solve her security problem, but instead gained access to her online banking details.

Yarra Crime Investigation Unit Senior Constable Cameron Mitchell said while the woman was vulnerable, it was a harsh act.

“The offenders made transfers of cash between the victim’s three bank accounts in order to confuse her and make it look like the balance of her account was increasing,” he said in a Victoria Police statement.

“It has been a traumatic experience for the victim and there is a message everyone can take from this.”

Detective Senior Constable Cameron also noted that a retail worker’s phone call to police – who noticed the mysterious amount of iTunes cards the victim was purchasing – stopped the victim from losing a lot more money.

“We are trying to get the message out to potential victims but also to retailers. If it wasn’t for that store intervening, this could have been much worse,” he told The Age.

There are also concerns that this type of scam could become an ongoing crime as this is not the first reported case of iTunes gift card scams this month.

On 22 July, 2017, two elderly men from Moama lost almost $30,000 to a man who claimed to be a Telstra worker, while just two days earlier, Washington County sheriff’s office had received several phone calls about potential scams.

There have been numerous cases overseas, including Canada.

Apple’s website has also warned consumers about avoiding future iTunes scams.

“If you’re approached to use the cards for payment outside of the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or Apple Music, you could very likely be the target of a scam and should immediately report it to your local police department,” the warning reads.

“Please do not ever provide the numbers on the back of the card to someone you do not know. Once those numbers are provided to the scammers, the funds on the card will likely be spent before you are able to contact Apple or law enforcement.”

Members of the public are urged to contact The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) at www.acorn.gov.au if they sense suspicious phone calls or potential scams, to ensure they avoid a cybercrime.