According to CHEK, an 81-year old Nanaimo man lost $1500, victim to a scam where fraudsters portray the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), but demand fake tax payment in the form of iTunes gift cards.
Cst. Derek Balderson said the senior was contacted Monday by a couple pretending to be with the government, detailing an outstanding tax debt. Payment was demanded over the phone with iTunes gift cards, which the victim went to purchase at local retailer, then provided activation numbers.
The fraudsters then demanded $3500 more in payments from the man, threatening they would arrest him if he went to the police station. The victim was ready to purchase additional gift cards at a store, but an alert employee stepped in and contacted RCMP.
Nanaimo RCMP said they received over 100 calls on Monday, from people complaining about attempted fraud over the phone.
“Thanks to the vigilance of a store clerk the victim was protected from further loss,” Balderson said. It is quite clear scammers are actively targeting residents of Nanaimo with variations of the Canada Revenue Agency Scam. Awareness for yourself and others is the best defence for this type of crime”, said Constable Derek Balderston.
The iTunes gift card scam has been ongoing in Canada since 2016, with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Agency noting in January losses had totalled $1.7 million. Last year in Calgary, 44 victims lost over $140,000; one victim lost $15,700 alone in iTunes gift cards. Another woman in Ottawa lost $12,500 via iTunes cards.
According to Apple, customers should never provide numbers from iTunes cards to people they do not know and to contact the CRA and local police, if they believe suspicious activity is happening over the phone.
The RCMP have noted these scams have been on the rise lately in Kelowna, BC, asking residents to be vigilant of those pretending to be the CRA and demanding payments in gift cards.
It’s tough to read about stories like this. Either retailers need to put up warning signs where they sell gift cards, or Apple should consider adding warnings to the back of iTunes cards sold in Canada about these scams.